Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers help us become saints

           Today we celebrate Jesus' Ascension into heaven and Mother's day.  Our mothers raise us.  They take care of us when we are sick.  And they correct us when we do things we shouldn't do.  Proverbs 29 tells us: "a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." Clearly, good and holy mothers are critical to the health and well being of their children.   Children don't raise themselves.  And a good child isn't raised by a village but by a family.  Mothers are the heart of the family.
            Last week at the first communion masses, I watched the mothers and fathers as they proudly came up to the altar with their children who would receive the Eucharist for the first time.  I noticed one mother who was crying as her twins received communion.  After mass, I asked her why she was crying.  She said that they were tears of joy as she watched her children and thought about how hard it has been raising them on her own.
            Mothers routinely sacrifice for their children.  They sacrifice their time, talent, and treasure to make sure that they are well fed and happy.  That's what mothers do. 
            There is a special place in heaven for all mothers.  Mothers have to endure a lot in raising their children.  When the children are young, they have to be at their beck and call most of the time.  And when they get older they still have to nurture them, direct them, and make sure that they stay on the straight and narrow. 
            Most mothers have some favorite sayings in directing their children.  I remember that whenever I did something bad by imitating one of my friends, my mother would say:  "If Chucky jumped off a bridge, would you do that also?"  She also was fond of saying: "offer it up" whenever I complained about something.  Often, a mother's sayings get passed down to their children and grandchildren.  Occasionally, I will hear my daughters say something to their children that my wife used to say.  That certainly makes me smile. 
            In the first reading, after Jesus rose into heaven, two men say to the apostles: "Why are you standing there looking at the sky?"   This sounds like something that our mothers might say to us.  Why are you just standing there wasting time, get to work! 
And so it is for us who look for Christ in the clouds when all the time he is here among us.  The early Christians spent a lot of time looking up at the heavens for Christ. Their writings reveal a general expectation that Christ would return soon, perhaps even before those who knew him firsthand had died. There is a legend that in the early Church someone was appointed, probably a deacon, to go outside during the celebration of the Eucharist to see if Christ had returned. Gradually, the Church learned that it should be concentrating on building up the Kingdom of God here on earth rather than gazing at the heavens.
 As members of Jesus' church, we are clothed with power from on high.  And, it certainly is time for us to get to work.  Let us honor our mothers by becoming saints.  I know that sounds like a difficult target, but, by definition, we cannot get to heaven unless we are a saint.  So, the goal for each of us is to become a saint.  And for many of us, our mother, by her love, her prayer, and her discipline, helps us either here on earth or from heaven as we continue along this journey. 
At a recent CRHP meeting, Several men commented that our parish is special.   They indicated that the many young, vibrant families here drew them to our parish.  In these families, we see the love and sacrifice of the mother.  Each week at mass, a family is asked to bring up the gifts.  Often, these families have young children.  And, typically the youngest end up carrying the gifts while the parents follow behind praying that the children successfully make it up the aisle without dropping anything.  Several weeks ago, a family with several young children was bringing up the gifts.  Their twin boys, who are around two, were each carrying a bowl with  money in it.  And their four year old daughter was carrying the carafe of wine with another young boy carrying the plate.  Fortunately, they made it safely up to me.  I am impressed with the courage of parents who trust their children to do this at such a young age.
Today, I salute all of the mothers present.  For those of you who brought your children, thank you for bringing them to church.  I know that this isn't easy especially when they are little and even when they are teenagers.  And I salute my wife who is the mother of five and my two daughters and two daughter in laws who are raising my nine wonderful grandchildren.

God bless and happy mother's day.