The Madonna of the Street's
[Acts 15:1-2, 22-29. Ps 67: 2-3, 5, 6, 8. Rev 21:10-14, 22-23. Jn 14:23-29.]
This is a powerful Gospel that we are privileged to hear today; that we are privileged to be a part of; because in the proclaimed word we are present to what happens—to what is is going on in today's Gospel.
Jesus gives His disciples—and us—His peace.
And that’s not just any kind of peace. No, it is the peace that is given Not as the world gives.
The world can never match the totality of Jesus’ kind of peace.
It is a special peace: it comes to us so as to not let our hearts be troubled.
What a beautiful kind of peace that is!
In His great generosity, God not only offers us this great peace; but I think He also and everywhere gives us examples of His peace—examples of what this peace must be like – a peace that is almost beyond our imaginations. Peace of encouraging and empowering presence.
And one of those examples of Jesus' peace that he gives, I think, is found in the examples of our mothers.
Today, we celebrate Mothers Day. Today we honor and recognize all mothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and all of those beautiful women who have been like mothers to us.
Some even say that the name “momma” is the first name for God on the lips of little children!
That is because mothers mirror the presence and the peace that Jesus offers!
All of us owe our very existence to our mothers. They loved us first: They loved us sight unseen even before we were born! Our mothers literally loved us into life. We have that in common.
We also have another thing in common, because we are all here in this Church, whether you are close by or back at the door: we are gathered around this light - this Easter candle, which represents the light of Christ - light from the new fire at the Vigil of Easter.
This light burns every time a baptism takes place.
Our mothers, who have loved us into life, bring us to this Church, and they ask baptism for us. Another birth for us through water and the Spirit. They will our eternal good even before we're aware of it!
Too frequently, I think, the world tells us that we should look on peace as satisfaction—sort of a "lack of being bothered"—and that’s not really peace.
No amount of satisfaction can ease our pain or console us if—or when—we are faced with real challenges or tragedies in our lives!
In fact, the world’s peace is often an absence of someone—as if we would have peace if, maybe people would let us alone!
That kind of peace...that's not peace.
The peace that Jesus offers us in this Gospel of today is the peace of presence. The peace of His presence with us to empower us.
Think for a minute about how God uses mothers signs of empowering peace for us:
Do yo remember that story of Jesus and His mother at the wedding feast in Cana?
His mother simply says to Jesus: “They have no wine.” And Jesus asks her how this concerns them.
We can only imagine what their eyes, their faces, their body language said to each other in that short moment. We don’t know, of course – the Gospel doesn’t tell us all these little nuances. But they were there.
We must know that they were there, because you and I, no matter how young or how old we are:
we are all children!
We all know about those little subtle expressions, those communications between a mother and her child—little glances, tones of voice that mean so much to us.
Back at Cana, we hear Mary’s statement of belief in her Son, empowerment of her Son, when she simply turns and says to the servants— “Do whatever he tells you.”
And we know what happens: That great abundance of wine, that first sign of Jesus’ messianic mission that leads to the gift of salvation and eternal life for all of us! A miracle! Done at the bidding of His mother.
And somehow, at least to me, with that first sign, might be the occasion to think of Jesus and Mary, who might have even been standing together with their hands joined for all we know. Well, maybe with this sign, their hands parted as if to take gentle leave of each other.
Every mother knows that this kind of love and peace leads eventually to some kind of parting.
But that’s okay – because mothers’ gifts help us to walk in the world with assurance; in much the same way as our mothers encouraged us to take our first steps. Most times those first steps were away from their open and loving arms.
They helped us to walk away from them. Mothers love in ways and at such depths of soul that we can hardly imagine.
I have heard some amazing stories of mothers’ love over the past few days, miraculous stories about mothers.
But what we don’t usually hear about are the stories of mothers in crisis, who are at great risk. Mothers who say "Yes" to the gift of life and decide that no matter what... no matter what kind of obstacles they face, they going to give birth to their children.
Because they won't buy in to the culture of death.
I know about mothers who are true Madonnas of the Street in the most holy sense. These are women who have spent their entire day looking for a safe place to spend the night. I have heard the story of a mother who gave birth alone in a deserted place. The whole world, it seemed to her, had turned its back on her. But she wouldn't turn her back on her baby.
I know that there are people who help mothers in crisis, whose wish for the peace and welfare of their children bring them to hope against the tides of their lives.
For years, there has been an agency just a few miles from here that has been helping poor mothers with clothing, food, and medical help to assist these women to get young lives started.
And now, Good Counsel is on the verge of opening its first home in South Jersey to welcome young mothers and give them counseling and educational opportunities as well as a loving setting in which to live and nurture their babies.
In just two weeks, Good Counsel will hold its local Walk-A-Thon to raise money for their house.
Why not make a Mothers Day resolution to join us and walk whatever distance that you like.
Walk for yourself; or walk in memory of or in honor of your own mother.
Walk for the life of a baby whose mother depends on your own empowering gift of peace.
Please, pray about this: Pray as if all depends upon God, and work as if all depends upon you.
Jesus tells us today: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
Let me share with you a thought about moms, from the pen of an anonymous author:
Your mother is always with you...
She's the whisper of the leaves
as you walk down the street.
She's the smell of bleach
in your freshly laundered clothes.
She's the cool hand on your brow
when you're not well.
Your mother lives inside your laughter.
She's crystallized in every tear drop.
She's the place you came from,
your first home...
She's the map you follow
with every step that you take.
She's your first love
and your first heart break...
and nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, Not space...
Not even death...
will ever separate you
from your mother...
You carry her inside of you...
I think every child knows this, but it’s nice to hear it spoken out loud on this day.
And so, to moms everywhere, and in every time and every circumstance:
Love, and thanks from grateful children who today with Jesus in the Gospel wish you Peace.