Sunday, May 09, 2010

Four Things a Good Mother Never Forgets

(Sixth Sunday of Easter (C): This homily was given on May 9, 2010 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani. Read Revelation 21: 10-14, 22-23 John 14: 23-29.)
[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Sixth Sunday of Easter 2010]

On Mother’s Day last year, a woman in the parish sent me this little anecdote that someone had sent to her. I don’t know if this really happened or not, but the point of the story is certainly a valid one:

A teacher gave her class of second graders a special lesson on magnets one day. She taught them what a magnet is and what a magnet does. The following day she decided to give the students a little quiz on what they had learned. One of the questions she put on the quiz read as follows: “My name has 6 letters. The first one is M. I pick up things. What am I?”

Well, almost half the students got it wrong. Instead of putting ‘magnet’ they answered with the word ‘mother.’

But I think the teacher ultimately gave them all credit for a true answer.

At least, she should have!

Good mothers know a lot about picking up things: toys from the living room floor, dirty clothes from around the hamper, food from the grocery store, her children from school. The list goes on and on.

Good mothers also have good memories—sometimes better than their children would like them to have, but that’s another story!

Along those lines, let me share with you now “Four Things a Good Mother Never Forgets”. These are reflected in the Scripture readings the Holy Spirit has given us this weekend, in particular the second reading and the Gospel.

So here they are . . .

Number 1—the first thing a good mother never forgets: THAT HER CHILDREN ARE NOT REALLY HERS.
A good mother knows that her children ultimately belong to God, not to her or to her husband! Parents “procreate”—that is to say, they co-operate with Almighty God to bring new human beings into the world. But God creates each human soul directly, so each human person belongs to him.

I’m not a big fan of Kahlil Gibran, the pop-philosopher whose writings were very popular in the 1960s, but these words of his to parents contain a great deal of truth:

“Your children are not your children . . . They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts . . . you may house their bodies but not their souls.”

St. John said it even more clearly in his first letter, when he wrote, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

God can dwell within us because we are made in his image and likeness and belong to him.

When a mother forgets this simple truth (that her children are not really hers), she ends up trying to manipulate them into doing her will, which can be disastrous.

This, by the way, is the second thing a good mother never forgets: THAT HER CHILDREN EXIST TO DO GOD'S WILL, NOT HERS.

I thank God from the bottom of my heart that I had a mother who never pressured me into my vocation as a priest. Never! She said to me many times, “I want you to do whatever God wants you to do in your life. If God’s will is for you to be a priest, great—I support you 100%. But if it’s his will that you do something else, then that’s what I want for you as well.”

The worst thing a mother—or father—can do is to impose their will on their child, especially regarding an important decision like the choice of a vocation, or the choice of a spouse—or even the choice of a career.

Those choices should be made by the child—and God!

Which leads us to the third thing a good mother never forgets: THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP HER CHILDREN HAVE IS WITH GOD, NOT HER!

Only God will be there for her child at every moment of every day. Only God knows the right decision for her child to make in every circumstance. As was indicated in today’s Gospel, only God can provide a person with true and lasting peace.

Yesterday we celebrated First Communion at St. Pius for 25 second graders. I wonder how many of them will be in church today with their mothers and fathers. More importantly, I wonder how many of their mothers and fathers will bring them to Mass each and every weekend from now on.

Good Catholic mothers will do that for their children because they know that the relationship their children have with the Lord must be the primary relationship in their lives.

Which brings us to the final thing a good mother never forgets: THAT THE TRUE HOME OF HER CHILDREN IS NOT IN THIS WORLD OR OF THIS WORLD. The true home of her children is the city spoken about in today’s second reading from Revelation 21: the new Jerusalem, or, as we normally call it, heaven!

A good mother teaches her children many things, but the most important lesson she imparts to her children is that the ultimate goal of human life is to live forever with God in his kingdom, and that every decision they make should be made with that goal in view.

Because a good mother knows that if her children ultimately make it into the kingdom of heaven, their lives here on earth will have been successful! But if they miss the kingdom, their earthly lives will have been total failures—even if they made a lot of money and became incredibly famous and powerful while they were here.

So there you have it: four things a good mother never forgets:
  • that her children are not really hers
  • that her children exist to do God’s will
  • that the most important relationship her children have is with God
  • that the true home of her children is not in this world or of this world

Oh yes, and by the way, these are also four things that A GOOD FATHER never forgets.