Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day

I hope everyone had a Happy Mothers Day. We certainly did. There is a happy Mommy with some of her girls (and, yes, "Uncle Walter" in the background). There is also a picture to prove that I bought flowers for my wife. We also got some for my own dear mother (my parents came over for the day), and they got some for Eileen. It was a nice circle of exchanging gifts of flowers.

Mothers Day is a very happy day for many people. It is a day to celebrate family life, rejoice in its blessings, and be grateful to those who embrace its burdens with generous hearts.

But for others it may be difficult. Some mothers and children are estranged from one another because of discord or misunderstanding. Some mothers have passed beyond this world, and are deeply missed. Some are reminded by this day of their desire to be mothers, and of the frustration of that desire by circumstances. Some are pained by the memory of children they lost, or of children never born because of the tragedy of miscarriage.

Nor can we forget mothers who have lost their spouses or children to the devastation of war, or the many disasters that we read about in the news or watch on TV or the internet with a certain dispassion. No one knows the fragility of life more intimately than a mother whose child's life has been cut off by the seemingly implacable forces of natural or human violence. Their grief appears inconsolable.

And then there are some who carry the awful burden of having chosen to end the life within them, of having chosen to deny their own motherhood. Whatever the world says, they know in their hearts that this desperate choice has left an open wound that cries out for healing and forgiveness. They too are mothers. Their bodies have nurtured human beings, persons loved by God, but some confusion or fear or selfishness drove them to end that nurturing relationship in the womb. This violence haunts their souls. Even if they have completely suppressed the memory of it, still it cannot fail to puncture their awareness in hidden moments. It cannot fail to bring moments of sadness that reveal the anguish that lies deep within.

These are the poorest and saddest mothers in the world.

They need forgiveness. And the good news is that there is forgiveness. Forgiveness has a name: Jesus. No poverty, no sadness is beyond His reach.

What alternative could there be? Begging to the Creator of all things for forgiveness, hoping that He who transcends all things might answer such a plea, and bring healing to an incurable wound? What else could a human being do, left to his or her own efforts? What else could I do?--I who presume to instruct others while my own heart is not free from the violence of denying or falsifying the realities of my daily life. After all, who am I? Another human being in need of forgiveness.

What a wonder, that Forgiveness has come into the world, that Forgiveness is present in a human way. There is a place in the world where He has promised, always, to remain. He is with us. He has risen from the dead. He has found that which was irretrievably lost; He can restore all that has been squandered by our guilt. Let us go to Him, whatever pain we may bear.

The forgiveness of God became a man, born of a woman, a mother. For all mothers, happy or sorrowful or burdened with regret, there is the tremendous sign and gift of this Mother. She knows the joys and the sorrows of every mother, and her heart is full of compassion for those who took the life of her Son. She is a vessel of forgiving love, pouring out healing on so many wounds.

Our hope becomes concrete in the recognition of that real Mother. Mary is a Mother. That means that salvation is not a dream; it is not an idea that people have invented to cope with evil and guilt and death. Salvation is a man, who entered our history because a woman said "yes" to motherhood.

This is the deep joy, and the unconquerable hope, of Mothers Day.