THE GIFT OF THE MOTHER
THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN THE SEASON OF THE RESURECTION
IN THE CHURCH IN THE STRUGGLE
On the Friday before Easter, we remembered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We remembered the betrayals, all the people who turned their back on the wonderful teaching, the hope of Jesus. Then on Easter, we remembered the rumors, the reports, that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. Then, each week, we remember each appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the believers.
At each appearance, Jesus reminds us of the gifts he brought us while he was among the people. These are gifts like baptism, reconciliation, communion, prayer and abundance. Together, the gifts gave us the means to maintain and deepen our faith and our unity.
But what gives us the strength, the inspiration to use these gifts? What gets us up in the morning to face another day when, like Jesus, we are faced with betrayal and the cold reality that powerful men, like those who crucified Jesus, are willing to make our lives hard, to destroy our lives, to protect their privileges and their wealth?
What gives us the courage and the hope to practice our faith in the way we live, in the way we struggle? There are times when depression and discouragement overtake us, when we feel we are drowning in despair. It is as if the well of courage and hope runs dry and our faith seems as far away from us as the stars in the sky.
Yet Jesus gave us another gift, a gift we celebrate today, a gift from which hope and courage springs eternal, getting us up each morning, rescuing us from discouragement and despair, filling our hearts, not only with courage, but with joy, so that we can love and laugh, and know the beauty of God’s creation, and know we are part of it, and know that God is with us.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, near the end, he looked down and spoke to his mother and one of the disciples. “Disciple, this now is YOUR mother. Mother, this now is YOUR son,” he said. Jesus gave us the gift of the mother – to inspire us, to protect us, to prepare us, and to challenge us to practice our faith. That gift is alive for us in the blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, ever present with us, with her miracles and her healing and her constant admonition to be faithful to her people. That gift is also alive in every mother here, who we remember today, and in the mothers from whom we are separated by the world or by governments or even by death. Nothing can separate them from our love, nothing can separate us from their love.
Today we honor our mothers and we express our gratitude and our love and our undying pledge of faithfulness. We are grateful for their inspiration. We recall the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”
Even from the very first, Mary was warned that she would face great pain because of the ministry of Jesus. Soon after his birth she had to flee her country to save his life –and live as a stranger, undocumented, in a foreign land.
And yet she understood that, through her, God was doing great things for her people. She was honored and humble and willing to serve. From the very first she accepted the mission God gave her and she never faltered.
And she spoke out to her people to remind them that their God had always been with them, that he was a God of Justice and that his justice was certain: “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”
Mary, a mother, who inspires us – as each of our mothers have inspired us – or we would not be here!
Our mother inspires us – but she also protects and prepares us for both the hardships, the struggle and the joys of life.
Jesus was not born full grown. No, Jesus was a helpless infant who had to be fed and protected, cared for when he was sick. He had to be taught to speak the wonderful words he would later bring to us. From his mother’s love he learned the love that comes only from God.
And so today, we honor the mothers here and those not here with us because they protected and prepared us to face the world, to survive – and to have the boldness of heart to love.
We honor our mothers because they also challenge us. They challenge us to walk when we can only crawl. They challenge us go to school and learn. And they challenge us to defend our families and our people.
When the blessed Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, she gently but firmly commanded him to confront the Bishop of his conquerors. Three times she sent Juan Diego back to the Bishop. And when finally he stood before the Bishop, it was her image on his cloak that brought the Bishop to his knees.
And because she so challenged Juan Diego, she has been a sustainer of the faith of a people for centuries. When we fight for our people, when we fight for our families, it is our mothers and the mothers of our children that challenge us to never give up our faith and our struggle, to protect and defend the love they have placed in our hearts.
When Jesus gave his mother to the disciple, he also instructed him to protect her. He knew it would be a dangerous time for her after his death. He loved her – but he also knew that she was needed to renew the movement after his crucifixion. The movement would need the faith of the woman who spoke the words, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
And so today we pledge to protect our mothers and the mothers of our children, as they have protected, inspired, prepared and challenged us. In two weeks we will begin a new chapter in our movement. We will begin to form the “little churches”, the small groups of faith and resistance with which we hope to form a new foundation for the struggle of our people.
At the heart of each of these groups, as must be at the heart of each of our families, is the courage, and love and inspiration of our mothers, and of the most blessed Virgin. This is the gift we will hold most closely to our hearts. This is the gift which will get us up in the morning. It is the gift that makes us keep walking when the weight of discouragement and despair seems too heavy. It is the gift that makes us laugh at ourselves but stand up when someone tries to ridicule us. It is the gift that makes us sacrifice for our families and for ourselves. It is the gift that makes us love our children, our life –and our Lord. And so we will put that gift at the heart of our little churches –as we have put the Virgin of Guadalupe at the heart of this church.
I speak personally this morning, but I believe I speak for all the fathers here. What gets me up in the morning? What keeps me in the faith and in the struggle? In this church the walls hold the laughter of love of mothers – and the benches you sit on are stained with their tears.
A year or so ago, the Lino family faced separation. They were trying to deport Senora Lino. We were at a television station together. Afterwards I watched the whole family walking down the street to the parking lot. Senora Lino had the whole family laughing together. That laughter of love stays in my mind.
And last Sunday we held a meeting of the Congressman’s family unity commission. Juan Carlos and his wife, the mother of their children, both testified and later were on television. I cannot forget her tears as they try take her husband away from her and her children. The commission will meet with Homeland Security soon and we will appeal their decision to refuse him prosecutorial discretion. But her tears stay on my heart.
On Tuesday we will march on Homeland Security here in Chicago. I will be in North Carolina with Congressman Gutierrez as we focus in on the case of Gabino Sanchez.
Gutierrez has been very committed to Gabino and the situation where the case is in Charlotte, the site of the democratic national convention in August, has made Gabino a national symbol.
Now Gutierrez often says that he is sure that his wife Soreida, his children and grandson will be there at home each time he returns. He then points out that everyone should have that security. I know that his wife Sorieda is the most important person in his life and I am sure that when he sees the tears and the laughter of Laura, Gabino’s wife, he is seeing Soreida. That is what drives him.
We thank all the mothers here, for your laughter of love, and your tears of love, that give us our faith and keep us in the struggle every day for our families and for our people. Today, I would like to take the privilege to give the first rose in the garden of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the first lady of our church, a wonderful mother, Pastora Emma Lozano, whose tears and laughter keep all of us in the faith and in the struggle.
Holy Mother, ALL of our mothers, we honor you, we thank you and we love you. Amen
The Holy Scriptures For The Sixth Week In Resurrection
Luke 1:46-57 Mary’s Song
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
The Words of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego
“Know, be sure, my dearest-and-youngest son, that I am the Prefect Ever Virgin Holy Mary, mother of the one great God of truth who gives us life, the inventor and creator of people. the owner and lord of what is around us and what is touching us or very close to us, the owner and lord of the sky, the owner of the earth. How truly I wish it, how greatly I desire it, that here they should erect Me My Temple! Here would I show forth, here would I lift up to view, here would I make a gift of all My Fondness for My Dear Ones, all My Regard for My Needy Ones, My Willingness to Aid them, My Readiness to Protect them. For truly I Myself, I am your Compassionate Mother, yours, for you yourself, for everybody here in the Land, for each and all together, for all others too, for all Folk of every kind, who do but cherish Me, who do but raise their voices to Me, who do but seek Me, who do but raise their trust to Me. For here I shall listen to their groanings, to their saddenings; here shall I make well and heal up their each and every kind of disappointment, of exhausting pangs, of bitter aching pain. But in order to realize what I have in mind in My Regard for My Needy Ones, do you, please, go to the Palace of the Bishop of Mexico; Go and tell him how it is I Myself who am commissioning you that you should present to him how strongly I desire it that here he should house Me, that here, on the level ground, he should erect My Temple. And give him a full account of all you have seen and wondered at and of whatever you have heard.
John 19:25-27 Jesus Speaks From the Cross
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.