Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:9-17)
Happy Mother’s Day! Perhaps you recently read the historic, heart-rending story of Karla Perez. At twenty-two years old, Perez was pregnant with her second child, when she collapsed at her Waterloo, Nebraska, home from a catastrophic intracranial hemorrhage. She was declared brain dead. Karla’s baby was fine, but its gestational age was too young to consider delivery. Knowing Karla would do anything for her child, the medical professionals kept her on life support for 54 days until her baby boy, Angel, was ready to leave the womb. Last month, he was delivered through a C-section at just over 2 pounds, a happy and healthy bundle of joy. In remarking about this historic moment, the vice president of the hospital said, “Our team took a giant leap of faith. We were attempting something that not many before us have been able to do. Karla’s loss of life was difficult, but the legacy she has left behind is remarkable.” Reading this story gave fresh meaning to this weekend’s Gospel in which Christ tells his disciples, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9-11)
Mothers give life. They nurture life. They devote their life to the lives of their children. In recognition of their role as givers and sustainers of life, we honor all of our mothers both living and deceased. As one of our children put it, “We love Mom, because she is MOM!” On this weekend, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, we call to mind the prophet Isaiah who speaks of God’s love for us using maternal language, As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you (Is. 66:13). The instinctual and potent bond that forms between mother and child shapes our understanding of God’s unconditional care for us, especially in times of need. Just as our mother gives us life, so too, it is God’s love that creates and sustains us.
Also, on this Mother’s Day weekend, we celebrate 22 youth confirmations. In receiving the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit, our confirmandi have been empowered to witness the life of Christ within them. This witness is furthered through the recognition of those who have lived heroic lives of witness. For this reason, each of our youth was asked to choose a patron saint and to learn more about the life of this saint in order to share it with others. Each of them constructed a “saint’s project” that included information, facts and the inspiration which led them to choose their particular saint. For your edification, I invite you to peruse these projects which are on display in the Church this weekend. As we celebrate the gift of life on Mother’s Day, we ask the Holy Spirit to renew each of us in the life of Christ, so that we might be witnesses to his love.
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.