Sometimes it will be a quick word on the phone; other times, I will find in the mail a card sent in her teacher’s handwriting sharing some inspiring words; and at times, it will simply be moments of silence that say loud and clear that love will have the last word. But in every occasion, in every circumstance, Mom simply wants to tell me: I love you with all my heart! And that is enough to fill my child’s heart, my man’s heart!
These last days, I had the grace to celebrate the Christian funeral of a friend from the United States. Annette was 97 years old… almost a century! She saw our world change! She saw the social transformations that have had a great impact on our families. And above all, she was a woman of hope and trust, of love given and delivered daily to her 9 children, 16 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren, with her spouse Ben who was by her side for over 74 years! Without a doubt, her most beautiful legacy is precisely this grace of openness in the face of a world that is changing and renewing itself. This grace allowed her to find and taste the beauty, the goodness, the good in every person, in every event, in every situation. This was the key to her happiness!
Whether it is Mom, whether it is Annette, whether it is any woman called to be a mother, each one of them carries a unique desire: that life bursts forth with all its lights and colors to transform our world! It will be a small gesture, a furtive word, an unknown prayer, a routine daily life… all this lived with a little more love than usual. And the grace of being a mother will produce – we don’t know how – fruits of eternity by making men and women grow up ready to build a new world.
Two thousand years ago, a simple woman became a mother. It was probably not in her plans, in her life project… But an irruption of the messenger of God came to transform everything. She would give birth to a man, to a God! Jesus would choose to pass through this humble woman, Mary, to become incarnate. He would be born “in the likeness of men and being found in human form” (Philippians 2:7-8) and would take upon himself all our reality.
I don’t know the feminine of the word “abba” in Aramaic, but I like to think that Jesus used it affectionately to relate to his mother. If he had this intimate connection with the Father in heaven, how could he not also have it with the one who nursed him from her womb, who saw him take his first steps, babble his first words. Probably like many children, his first word was “Mama”…
A whole life was spent uniting Jesus and Mary, a life of mission and self-giving. At the final moment, on the cross, Jesus gives his mother to all humanity. “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27). And since that time, we have two mothers… one who opens her heart to us in giving us life and the other who opens the heart of her beloved Son to give us New Life.
As Mother’s Day approaches, let us give thanks for the one who is our mother. Perhaps she is still here… So simply offer her a small gesture of tenderness to say “Thank you! I love you!” Perhaps she is already at the side of the other Mother… and then let it be Mary herself who comes to console our hearts by simply whispering to us the words given to Juan Diego: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection?” And our heart will be able to find its peace in the maternal love of Mary.
To all the mothers of the world – and in a special way to mine, to Mae – Happy Mother’s Day!