Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014: 4th Sunday of Easter A - Mother's Day

How many of you have a mother who is stubborn? One Jesuit priest shared the following experience with his fellow Jesuit priests. One summer he volunteered at a hospice located in a slum. He had a chance to talk with the mother superior who ran the hospice. He took the opportunity to suggest to her how to improve the sanitary conditions of her hospice. He told her, “Mother, your sisters should arrange their medicine this way, not that way; they should treat the patients this way, not that way; they should do things this way, not that way.” The mother superior smiled and said, “That’s not our way.” The priest persisted. “It really is better, to do things my way. After all, I have a PhD in public health.” The mother superior replied again calmly, “No, that is not our way.” The priest grew angry at her resoluteness as he said, “Really, it would be much better.” She replied, “No, that is not our way, Father.” The priest slammed his hand on the table in frustration, “Mother, you are so...unreasonable!” The other Jesuit priests listening to the story commented, “You told Mother Teresa that she was unreasonable? That's good for at least a few more days in purgatory for you!"

When we were children, we did not understand why our mothers made us go to church and pray regularly. To us, our insistent mothers seemed too stubborn even when we protested. Most mothers share that same resoluteness of Mother Teresa regarding faith. In a mysterious way, every mother has been gifted by God with the ability not only to nurture her child physically but also nurture her child spiritually. It’s not that fathers do not recognize the spiritual needs of their children, but the mothers are in someway naturally drawn to bring their children to what will nourish them spiritually. Mothers know instinctively that while they play a big part nourishing their children, someone greater than themselves play a much greater role in nourishing their children.

In the movie God’s Not Dead, an exceptionally successful man, who is wealthy and has no need for God, is contacted by his sister who insists that he visit their mother who is in the advanced stage of dementia. Since she doesn’t recognize him, he feels it is useless to visit her. When he finally does visit his mom, he sits behind her and stares at her. She seems removed from reality as she gazes out to nowhere. Her son, not expecting her to respond says, “Mom, you prayed and believed your whole life. Never done anything wrong, and here you are. You're the kindest person I know. I am the meanest. You have dementia. My life is perfect. Explain that to me!” Then all of the sudden, the mother who seems not to be aware of her son’s presence speaks, “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn't want people turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn't seem to be any reason to leave. The door's wide open. Till one day time runs out and the door slams shut and suddenly it's too late to get out.” Perhaps it was the last attempt by this mother to save her son’s soul.

Pope Francis commenting on today’s Gospel said, "Sometimes we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord. We desire to possess the key to interpreting everything, the key and the power to find our own path, whatever it is, to find our own gate. And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God. We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus. All those who do something else - says the Lord - who try to enter through the window, are 'thieves and robbers'.” Just as Mother Teresa advised the Jesuit priest with the PhD that God’s way is not our way, Pope Francis advised that we should knock on the True Gate even though we feel that gate seems closed. “We are sad, we feel desolation...we have problems with knocking. Do not go looking for other gates that seem easier, more comfortable. The gate we should be knocking on is Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, Jesus does not deceive, Jesus is not a thief, not a robber. He gave his life for me: each of us must say this: 'And you who gave your life for me, please, open, that I may enter.' "

What will it take for you to start knocking at Our Lord’s door? Do you lack confidence or desire to knock? Ask the Heavenly Mother on this Mother’s Day to help you.