Gospel reflections – Fifth Sunday of Easter
10 May 2020
John 14 1-12… “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
In celebration of Mothers’ Day
RED LETTER DAY…
Is it just me or is it the same feeling for everybody? That feeling of “every day is just like every other day”.
Since day one of this lockdown, has it felt like each day is the same as any other day? And does it feel like that every day?
No more looking forward to weekends. Weekday, weekend, they’re all the same.
Yahoo! No more feeling blue on Monday mornings. But huhu! No more looking forward to Friday evenings. And yah… no more inspiring churchy Sunday morning or evening.
Because of this long quarantine, our everyday has become the same as our any ordinary day.
But not today pleeease! Keep this special. It’s Mothers’ Day. Let this red letter day be as it really is… far from plain, but simply significant instead. Please… DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF TREATING AS MERE PAROCHIAL THAT WHICH IS MOST SPECIAL… THE BIG MISTAKE OF VALUING LESS AS JUST ONE OF THE MANY THAT WHICH IS, IN FACT, SO VALUABLE, THE ONE AND ONLY.
Oh yes, such are mothers… they are to us, their children, very valuable, truly one and only.
And in line with this, may I offer these two points for reflection…. Sorry if they sound like unsolicited advice. Know though that I only mean well and that I speak from my own experiences of trying to be really loving and of sometimes lacking in doing so.
First point.… THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF BEING ‘MOTHERS’. ONE IS BY ‘MOTHERING’. THE OTHER IS BY ‘SMOTHERING’.
The former… MOTHERING… is by loving, caring, guiding, protecting, defending, nurturing, serving, self-sacrificing, etc etc.… Think of all the many good things your mom has done to you… that’s it… and more. Sometimes challenging, but always leading…. All out of love and all for the good and growth of their beloved children.
“Dinner is ready, anak. I cooked your favorite… to make you happy. But I added veggie… to make you healthy.” Remember your mom telling you this? That’s ‘mothering’. Makes you want to say, “Lucky me!”
The latter… SMOTHERING… is by doing actually all of the above but in a way that makes children feel you are doing these things too much… to the point that you are doing them wrong… and so they feel suppressed, overly protected, unfree… perhaps even controlled, not anymore capable of making their own choices… and thus learn and get better… both from their well-earned medals and their innocent and sometimes not that innocent mistakes. It’s like you don’t trust your own children. Ouch! That hurts.
“College is ready, anak. Take chemical engineering… like your daddy. Don’t go into arts-painting… even if that makes you happy.” Has your mom sounded like this? That’s ‘smothering’. Makes you want to say, “Poor me!”
Second point…. THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF BEING ‘CHILDREN’. ONE IS BY MAKING OUR MOTHERS FEEL REALLY AS ‘MOTHERS’. THE OTHER IS BY MAKING THEM FEEL THAT THEY ARE JUST LIKE ONE OF OUR ‘OTHERS’.
The former… MOTHERING… is by loving our moms, caring for them, thanking them, appreciating them, listening to them, obeying them, apologizing to them, being there with and for them… in our lovely though sometimes little ways.
“Love you, mom. I know it’s not your birthday but may I invite you for dinner somewhere?” Has your mom heard such from you? I hope she had… but not because you actually hate her home cooking that’s why you’re inviting her out. Do something like this. That’s ‘mothering’ her. Makes her want to say, “Lucky me!”
The latter… OTHERING… is by actually loving our moms but only in ways we want to, only in ways we feel we could and should… but not in ways that they honestly like us to, not in ways we need to. It’s like treating them just like the way you treat everyone and anyone. It’s like your own mom is not special to you. Ouch! That hurts.
“Love you mom. I know it’s your birthday but sorry, I can’t join dinner.” Guess what? She went to market early and stayed in the kitchen all afternoon just to cook something special for you. But you failed… again… to make her feel that she is special to you. Has something like this happened with you and your mom? That’s ‘othering’ her. Makes her want to say, “Poor me!”
Easy for me to say these things, right? But I know this isn’t easy in day to day reality… to ‘mother’ our children and not to ‘smother’ them… and to ‘mother’ our mothers and not to ‘other’ them.
Probably, there are times when we find ourselves asking these questions, whether as mothers or as children… “Have I loved well? Have I loved enough? Should I love more? Am I loving too much?”
I guess we just have to try our very best always in being more and more loving… to never under-value that which is, or better still, those who are actually so very valuable. Let no lockdown bring down our high esteem for those who deserve no less.
Which leads me to my third and last point for reflection… inspired by today’s Gospel from John 14: 1-12 which proclaims to us that Jesus, our Lord, is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” .
Third point…. THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF BEING ‘GOD’S CHILDREN’. ONE IS BY MAKING JESUS OUR ONLY WAY, TRUTH AND LIFE. THE OTHER IS BY NOT, BY MAKING JESUS JUST LIKE ONE OF OUR MANY ‘OTHERS’.
Makes me ask…
“Do I value Jesus that well, that much?
Is Jesus to me my way, my truth and my life?
Do I treat God that highly, that singularly? Really? Fully?
Or do I sometimes relate to God as just one of the many that I talk to and turn to?
Is Jesus truly my one and only?”
My only answer is this humble honest prayer…
Mea culpa, mea culpa. Oh God, I’m so sorry.
You deserve more from me… always.
Yet I have given you so much less than you deserve… when I should always give you my all.
And yet, you ‘mother’ me… and never ‘smother’ me.
You treat me as your ‘own’… and never as an ‘other’.
Though you and only you are the way, the truth and the life… whenever I, unintentionally or worse willfully, get lost, get deceived, and choose death, you are still there… never controlling nor condemning me… but lovingly there, curing my sick heart, clearing my confused mind, and caring for my lost soul.
Lord, sometimes I cannot but wonder and ask,
“Why do you allow me to sometimes feel lost, feel so wrong and wronged, get so weak and sick, and even lose life? Can you not simply keep me… and us all, your children, why not… always on the right path, adhering to the truth, and alive in you? Can’t you?”
I’m sure you can, Lord. Then why don’t you?
But then I remember…
You are my loving God… who ‘mother’ me… and never ‘smother’ me…
Sinful as I am, sometimes I choose other ways.
Human as I am, sometimes I go wrong and adhere to erroneous things.
Weak as I am, sometimes I hurt and harm myself and others as well.
But faithfully and unconditionally loving as you are, always you forgive me and form me.
You never force me but sometimes have to forge me…
if only to show me and usher me to your very self…
… you who are the way, the truth and the life.
Oh my God, my one and only God…
forgive me if I do and guide me not to…
make that biggest mistake of valuing you less
when, in fact and in faith, you are the most precious of all, simply priceless.
May I always revere you as the way, the truth, and the life…
the one and only… my one and only.
WITH YOU, OH LORD, WHO IS LIFE, TRUTH AND WAY…
EVERY DAY IS INDEED A RED LETTER DAY.
Fr Ramon Borja, SDB
Commission for Youth