May 13, 2012
What is your earliest memory of your mother? My earliest memory is of a temper tantrum I was having when my mom was heading off to work. I was about two and a half years of age. My mom was about twenty-two. She was a nurse and was heading off for her 3 to 11 PM shift at the hospital. My dad was out looking for work, an unemployed carpenter and sometimes jazz musician (who would eventually become a physician and a surgeon). I was standing in the hall, trying to pull my mom back into the house. We, mom, dad and me, were living in a small apartment attached to my mom’s parents’ home. I’m guessing that there might have been a little adult stress in that arrangement; but what I remember toady is that I did not want my mom to leave me.
Why mention this personal memory?
Today is Mother’s Day, and Mother’s Day is personal. Yes… Mother’s Day is a day that greeting card businesses and florists love. Yes…Mother’s Day is a day that restaurants and jewelry stores bank on. Yes…Mother’s Day is a day when the secular and cynical media folks get poetically sentimental.
But my memory is not about any of that. My memory…one that is crystal clear and has an emotional tug for me to this day…is about my mom, and about how much I loved her and how much I wanted her to stay close to me…how I was defined by her. I’m guessing that most of your earliest memories are the same…about that love, that abiding love that our moms bathed us in, day and night.
We do not “earn” birth. We do not “merit” birth. Our birth is a gift from God, the fruit of the love between man and woman. Each of us lives a life that is pure gift. Our moms and our dads accept the gift given to them and shape that gift…our lives…according to their best lights. For the moms and dads of Saint Brigid, our faith in the revelation of God offers us the best light in which our children are to be shaped…formed…readied for the challenges of being human.
And that shaping, forming, transformational light that our moms and dads bathe us in…is Jesus of Nazareth…and His new way of life.
Like every human being, Jesus of Nazareth was formed and shaped by the lights used by Mary and Joseph. These lights…and the faith that shaped them… the love of God and the law of God and the promise of God…to be with the poor ones…Israel. And so, the Mother of God and the good St. Joseph did just that. They nurtured the One who was born to save our broken humanity; and Jesus loved his mom completely, for His thirty-three years of life on this good earth. He honored her as we are to honor our moms today (and every day).
On this Mother’s Day, let us follow the invitation of the mother of the Lord Jesus, let us listen to the Lord and do whatever he tells us (John 2.5). Our 2nd graders did that this weekend. We held three beautiful Masses for all the children that received the Lord in their 1st Holy Communion. The Lord invites us to take and eat, take and drink; and this weekend, our children said YES!
In faith, we honor the mother of Jesus. In love and in gratitude, we honor our mothers. It is all part of God’s plan…to raise up a redeemed humanity in the light of His Light.