May 10, 2020: The Fifth Sunday of Easter - Pastor’s Corner
Happy Mother’s Day! I once asked a group of elementary school children: “What is the most important gift that your mom ever gave you?” After a few responses about Christmas presents and birthday toys, I hinted “You need it every day and it starts with the letter “L”.” Immediately, a little boy cried out, “Lunch!” After a chuckle and a serious, if brief, discussion about the inherent virtues of a well-made PB&J subsided, I coaxed: “It begins with L, ends with E and is four letters long.” A number of voices sang out: “Love.” I replied: “Yes, love is the greatest gift for sure, but there’s even a more important, more foundational gift that we tend to take for granted. “It begins with L, ends with E, is four letters long and rhymes with WIFE.” Eager to be lauded, a universal chorus rang out: “Life!”
Mothers give life. They nurture life. They devote their life to their children. In recognition of their role as givers and sustainers of life, we honor all of our mothers both living and deceased. Especially in these pandemic days when the responsibilities of mom’s have been heightened, we do well to express our affection and gratitude. 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.
In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus speaks a word of life to his followers. Gathered at the Last Supper Table, Jesus tells his friends that the end is near. The hour for His arrest is imminent. He will be leaving them. But, in order that they might not lose hope, He assures them that they will be reunited, for they know the way. Naturally dismayed, Thomas speaks for all the disciples in expressing ignorance of where Jesus is going or how they might follow. Thomas’ question elicits Jesus’ famous response: “I am the way and the truth hand the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus identifies His very person as the source of life. There is no path to eternal life except through Jesus. More than simply giving his disciples a set of teachings to believe or rules to follow, Jesus calls them to a relationship by which He lives in them. As God, Jesus is not only the source but the very means by which we have life.
Further, Jesus does not simply offer them the gift of life, but he takes the initiative. At the moment when the disciples are beset with fear and anxiety of the prospect of Jesus’ departure, He promises that He “goes to prepare a place for them.” Just as a Mother might prepare the family abode for the arrival of her children who are returning from college or coming for a visit, so too, Jesus is prepared a place for all those who desire to find in home with him. Even before we consider how we might approach Jesus, he is already preparing to welcome us with open arms.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, we pray for our Mother’s both living and deceased. We ask God’s blessings for them in gratitude for their presence in our lives. We open our hearts to our God who has a Mother’s care for us during these difficult days. We live in the expectant hope of arriving at the special place Jesus is even now preparing for us: our heavenly home.