Sixth Sunday of Easter
Jn 15:9-17
May 9, 2021

As a Catholic priest, I have not been blessed with an “immediate family” no wife or kids. However, through my ministry, I have been a privileged witness to familial love at its purest…the extraordinarily powerful love of mothers.

I have stood by and watched heroic young moms vigorously advocate for their unborn children who were diagnosed in-vitro with potentially debilitating diseases, rejecting the advice of physicians urging them to terminate the pregnancies.

I have received numerous SOS calls from moms begging for prayers that their newborn survive premature births, serious heart surgeries, and other life-threatening conditions. Then, following up, I have listened to these young women describe the days, weeks, and sometimes even months they’ve spent literally living in pediatric ICUs.

I have consoled young moms as they shed tears watching their child walk away on the first day of school.

I have done my best to help moms plan out some type of intervention in hopes of freeing their teenager from some destructive addiction. And I have obliged concerned moms by visiting their kids in jail on those occasions when the interventions failed.

Without a doubt, the most challenging thing I have done has been to “keep it together” while presiding at the funeral Mass for a mother’s child. The loss of a young life is especially heartbreaking. But the grief-covered face of a 90-year-old mother standing at the graveside of a 70-year-old son or daughter reflects the same intense pain.

On a lighter note, I have watched moms pivot and dodge the accusation of being “too controlling” while still trying to protect their kids…eager to be liberated from their mother’s protective eye…but agreeably “retying” the apron strings when some poor choice makes it necessary or convenient.

Car keys…spring break…prom dresses…and don’t get me started about wedding plans; these are just a few of the flash points that have sent many a mother into my confessional…accusing themselves of “losing patience.” As I hear these stories, it makes the sense of loss at not having kids of my own seem almost like a blessing in disguise.

How appropriate that our Church gives us for reflection on this “Mother’s Day” the Second Reading, reminding us that

God IS Love.

The Gospel choice is the perfect follow-up, commanding us to be images of our Creator, by LOVING ONE ANOTHER.

However, neither passage speaks to something that we see quite clearly when we consider what a “mother’s love” often brings with it. That would be suffering.

Great love carries with it the vulnerability to great suffering. The pain of giving birth is only the beginning. The “heart burn” that, in many cases, is chronic and is a very real symptom of this purest and extraordinarily powerful force we call “motherly love.”

Acknowledging the truth that GREAT LOVE BRINGS GREAT SUFFERING…makes this “Hallmark” occasion much more real. And the reality is simply this: When we are witnesses to familial love at its purest…the extraordinarily powerful love of mothers…what we are privileged to see is a pure and extraordinarily powerful image of Jesus Christ. A good and loving mother is a living icon of our good and loving God revealed through Jesus Christ.

So, on this Mother’s Day, we give thanks for all the many ways mothers live out their life-giving vocation. But, most of all, we give thanks for the way they reflect the face of God to us by their love…and by their suffering.