Many churches use the same readings each Sunday as a sign of unity. The one chosen for Mother’s Day is unintentionally perfect. It’s from John, the part where Jesus is praying for his dear friends at the last supper.
What does he pray for them to be? Great preachers? Saintly saints? Perfect people? Nope. He prays that they will be one – one with each other, one with God.
Sounds like something my mother used to say, although she used different words for it.
Mom didn’t want anyone thinking of her as a saint, though that’s just a matter of definition. She did her best to love four kids and teach us lessons that would get us through life, which is pretty saintly in my book.
One lesson: Life is difficult at times, and you just have to get through it by leaning on God and those who love you. That approach got her through a lot.
It got her through raising four kids and making another trip to the emergency room for stitches because one of us had done something stupid yet again. It got her through my dad’s drinking – thank God for AA. It got her through the multiple sclerosis that started crippling her legs in her 40s. It got her through her stroke at age 73 and her nine months in a nursing home before her death.
It got me through all of that and more.
Another lesson from mom is that we need to always be kind and looking for ways to give to others. She drove that lesson home during her nine months in the nursing home.
There’s always something to give
The stroke paralyzed her right side, yet she still found creative ways to give. She ordered a packet of hot chocolate with every meal even though she didn’t drink it – coffee was her thing. Instead, she gave the hot chocolate packets to my sister as a gift from grandma to her two young boys.
That’s really sweet, isn’t it? Also, very generous. Do the math. Three packets of hot chocolate a day, seven days a week, nine months in the nursing home – that’s a lot of hot chocolate. It quickly overran my sister’s food pantry. She farmed it out to the rest of us.
When my mom died, I gave the eulogy and told the pallbearers that if the casket felt a lot heavier on one side, it was because we gave some of the hot chocolate back. (Just kidding!)
I’ve kept one packet – the one pictured above. It rests on a shelf above my computer and reminds me every day that I need to find ways to give of myself to others.
There’s another lesson from mom that ties in with the assigned reading for Sunday. In the gospel passage, Jesus prays that his dear friends would live as one. Mom taught us the same thing, though she put it a different way. Her expression was: Knock it off!
Treat everyone like family
She said that a lot – more than she wanted. She’d say it when my brothers and I were poking each other in the back seat of the car. She’d say it when we’d pass the food around the table and one of us would fill our plate to overflowing before others got their portion. She’d say it when we acted like we mattered more than someone else. When we developed an attitude of privilege. When we refused to share.
Knock. It. Off. Act like you are part of this family!
Interestingly, we hear Jesus saying something like that, too. Remember the stories of when he’d come upon the disciples and they’d be arguing over who was the most important in God’s kingdom? And Jesus would say: That’s not how it works. There is no greater or least. Knock it off!
And where do you suppose he learned that from? From his mom, of course. Mary taught him about love and getting along and being family. It’s from her that he learned about our divine Mom.
A love that overflows
A Mom who gives us grace and love so generously each day that it overflows our pantries and needs to be shared. A Mom who wants nothing more than to snatch us up in her arms, make us giggle, run her fingers through our hair, hum us a song, and reassure us that everything is going to be OK because she is with us.
A Mom who says that if you know just one thing about me, know this: I love you, just as you are. Always have, always will. And I’m always here for you. Trust me on that.
And now, go play with your brothers and sisters. All of them. Make sure everyone is treated as an equal. Have fun. And take care of each other.
Be as one. Because that’s what we are.