6th Sunday of Easter Year B / Mother’s Day

     I come from a large family and even though my 5 brothers and 5 sisters are scattered throughout the country for school and work, we always try to make it a point to get together as often as possible. A little while back some of us were together and we noticed that it seems like every time someone finds out that we come from a large family, they assume my mom must be a saint. Now all of us certainly think our mom is a saint, but we don’t like the idea of her getting the credit for it, so we decided that anytime someone tells us our mom must be a saint we are going to take credit for it. Growing up, like most people, my siblings and I enjoyed life and we often left our mom no other option than to drop to her knees and pray, so after all why shouldn’t we get some credit for making her a saint?

     As my siblings and I were reflecting back on our childhood we realized that we frequently accused my mom of being too strict, too unpopular, and out of touch with reality, yet as we have grown up we are beginning to realize that our mom was not trying to make our lives a living hell, but rather she only wanted what was best for us, she wanted our joy to be complete. Like all good parents, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that He wants us to remain in His love so that our joy may be complete. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and before He ascended into heaven, the feast we will celebrate next Sunday, Jesus summoned St. Peter and told him “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”[1] The Church founded by Christ on St. Peter, still feeds us today through the Holy Eucharist, the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the bishops, in union with the Pope.

     If you are anything like me, we can at times find ourselves wanting to remain in God’s love, but struggling to know how and our faith can become a source of stress in our lives. Yet there is no need for anxiety because in today’s Gospel, Jesus is very clear, “if you keep my commandments, you remain in my love.” If we simply stay in the Church, following Her guidance in living out the true Christian way, we can be assured of remaining in God’s love and hold out hope for our salvation. My friends, the Church is our mother. Just as mothers often have to put unpopular limits on their children and have to teach them truths that are unpopular, so too the Church must often speak truths that are unpopular and call us to a life that will not always be easy. Yet even when we don’t see it, like all good mothers, our mother the Church, only challenges us in the ways She does because like our own mothers, She knows that it will lead us to remain in God’s love.

     If we are honest with ourselves, I don’t think anyone here would say being a mother is easy, nor is living as a son or daughter always easy. Likewise living in the Church can be hard, but we can never forget that “love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God.”[2] Yet regardless of how hard it was at times growing up with my mom, she was always my mom. Like most of you I love my mom and I am not afraid to tell the world how great she is and I would be the first to defend her, if she came under attack. If we love our own mothers enough to tell the world how much we love them and we are ready to defend them at any cost, shouldn’t we also desire to express our love of our mother the Church and be prepared to defend Her, whenever necessary. I think today’s Gospel and the celebration of mother’s day gives us pause to ask ourselves two questions. First, do we stand up and defend our mother the Church when others attack Her? Secondly, do we take the opportunity to tell the world of our mother the Church? After all we know there are countless people out in the streets near this Church and near our homes that need to hear the message of Christ, but Christ needs your hands, Christ needs your feet, Christ needs your mouths, and Christ needs your lives to spread the message of His love.

     I think as Americans, we often like to think that we can do everything ourselves, but the reality is we can’t get ourselves to heaven on our own, only Christ can lead us to heaven. We need the protection and guidance of our mother the Church to lead us to heaven. We need to root our lives in Holy Mass on Sundays and living as members of this parish community.

     We are blessed to live under the protection of our Mother the Church, but there are many people out there who do not know the motherly love of the Church. We must go out and share the loving message of Christ’s resurrection and the gift of our Mother the Church. People are searching everywhere that their joy might be complete, but we know they will only find the fullness of joy in Christ. Just as someone other than ourselves, whether it was a parent, friend, or someone else, lead us to the safety of the Church, we too must lead others to that same safety, so that our world may truly be a world full of joy and peace.

     My friends find your safety in the Church. Bring others to the protection of our Holy Mother the Church. Come to your mother the Church and have life and have it abundantly.

[1] MT 16:18

[2] Karol Wojtyla. The Meaning of Vocation. United States: Scepter Publishers, 1997. pg 20.

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