Before giving the homily I want to thank you for your great response last Sunday to the Annual Catholic Appeal. 341 families pledged a total of $45,914. If you have not yet turned in your pledge envelope, you may do so in the Sunday's collection.
On this Mother's Day I would like to tell about a society that had a beautiful practice. When a baby girl was born, they rejoiced and as she grew, they taught her to be devoted to her mother. Because of that devotion, the girls learned to do amazing things, like memorize long poems or run great distances, for sure because those were fun things to do, but more important to please their moms.
And boys, being boys, did not want the girls to get ahead of them. They also accomplished great things to honor their parents.
One nice aspect of this society was that they did not have a long list of rules. "Do this. Don't do that." No one needed to be told not to cheat or to go to bed on time because they had an inner compass.
And that society prospered. No one had an excessive amount, but everyone had enough. And when parents grew old, they did not need social security because, when they became weak, it was their children's pride to take care of them.
Jesus envisioned that kind of society when he said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Jesus' commandments are the same ones his Father gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. You remember that when Moses came down from the mountain, he carried two stone tablets. The one in his right arm referred to love of God: have no false gods, do not take God's name in vain, keep holy the Lord's Day.
In his left arm Moses carried the commandments which referred to love of neighbor. Now the one the headed the list has a special importance. It is a hinge on which the others depend. It says: Honor your father and your mother. If we keep that commandment, it will not be so hard to keep the others. However, the person who dishonors his parents, very soon breaks the others. We saw a tragic example of that in the killings in Littleton, Colorado. We must face the fact that before those boys did those horrible killings, they had dishonored their parents by not communicating with them. A person who honors his mother and father will not do something which brings shame on them.
The importance of honoring our parents cannot be overemphasized. St. Paul reminds us that this is the one commandment with a promise attached to it. If you honor your mother and father, you will prosper, things will go well for you in this life. The key to prosperity and well being is honoring our parents. You see, God picked out for each one of us exactly the parents he wanted us to have and thru them gives us his blessing, his protection and guidance.
Regarding this commandment, it is important to clarify a couple of things. On Mother's Day all of us have a lot of feelings about our moms. But their is a potential danger with these feelings. We can fall into sentimentality. God's commands are not a matter of feeling. Feelings cannot be commanded--nor can they bring salvation. A commandment is about choice, a decision. It is a decision to honor our parents. No one has perfect parents. I think my mom is pretty good, but I would not put on her the burden of being a perfect mother. All of us have to make the decision to honor our father and mother as they are.
Even if we do not know or live with our biological parents, we still honor them by respecting our guardians. Jesus gave a great of example of that. St. Joseph was not his physical father, but Jesus gave him complete obedience and respect.
Speaking of Jesus' honor for his parents, I remind you of something many Catholics have forgotten today. Our vision has become so limited to this earth we neglect a most beautiful gift Jesus gave us. We heard about it on Good Friday. It was Jesus' last testament to us when he hung on the cross. He turned to his mother and said, Behold your son. And to the beloved disciple, Behold your mother. On one level Jesus was providing for his widowed mother who had not other children to care for her. (Remember this verse when someone tells you that Mary had other children besides Jesus. If so, where were they? And why did Jesus need to entrust his mother to someone else?)
But more important is the spiritual meaning of entrusting his mother to the beloved disciple. He represents the Church, all the baptized. On the day of our baptism we received from Jesus his own mother as ours. What a beautiful gift.
Jesus word for Mothers Day is: If you love me, keep my commandements. As we saw the hinge is the fourth. We are commanded to honor our earthly parents and by extention our heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin. As one priest said, "If she is good enough for Jesus, she's good enough for me and for you."
We are trying to teaching that devotion to our school children. On Friday we had a beautiful celebration--the May crowing of Mary. We want our children to grow up with that love for the Blessed Virgin.
A beautiful prayer for today is the Hail Mary. The first half is a direct quote from the Bible, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
In the second half we acknowledge Mary as Mother of God. Then we ask her to pray for us, knowing that we are sinners, at the only two moments that count: now and at the hour of our death. Now because the past is gone--the only thing we can do about is give thanks or repent. The future is just a dream. The only future event we can be sure of is the hour of our death. So we ask Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
May God bless each of you on this Mother's Day.
1998 Mother's Day Homily "The great human act of surrender is motherhood. Motherhood begins not when the child is born, nor at some arbitrary point in the pregnancy like when the baby kicks or at implantation."
Stem Cell Research: Teaching of Bible & Catholic Church
1997 Homily "A lot of our parents can feel overwhelmed, even frightened, about raising children in this society. That is especially true for moms. They feel like they have to 'super-moms,' perfect in every way. "
From Archives (Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Mary Bloom Center (with links to pictures of my mom)
He Approached the Victim: "It's much more likely one of your relatives will lose his life by surgical abortion than by heart attack."
Germaine Greer on Birth Control
Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church
Deflating Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Stephen Jay Gould: Gorbachev of Darwinism?
Test Tube Offspring Want to Know Father
Erickson vs. Bartell Drugs
Call No Man Father
What is Original Sin of Sex?
Bicentennial Man (Hidden Assumptions)
Bogus Knights of Columbus Oath
Ossuary of James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus
Prayer Vigil at West Seattle Planned Parenthood Clinic
Renewal of Vows, Prayers of Faithful and Blessing of Married Couples on World Marriage Day
my bulletin column
SMV Bulletin (be patient - sometimes we have problems uploading)
Parish Picture Album
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish
Raymond Arroyo's Interview with Bill Donohue on John Jay Report