Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the Diaconate of Mothers: 5th Sunday of Easter (Cycle A)

    Today’s first reading is very close to the heart of every permanent deacon. It is a reading we hear in every diaconal ordination. It is the story of how the apostles, the first bishops of the Church, decided to call 7 reputable men filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, to be ordained, and to become servants to the most vulnerable members of their community, poor widows.
   This weekend as well we are celebrating Mother's Day, a day on which we show how grateful we are for all the  sacrifices our mothers make for us. It is interesting that we get to read about deacons serving widows on a weekend set apart  to show our appreciation for the life long service our mothers give to us.
   Now I do not want to give the  impression that somehow I think being a deacon is equivalent to been a mother (I know my wife would have something to say about this!). But the reason why I think it is interesting that we have this first reading on this specific weekend is because these two ways of life, a man ordained as a deacon and a woman living her motherhood, require a very important gift from God: they both require a call, what we usually call a vocation.  Now vocations are a funny thing, at their core they are not something you do, but something you are called by God to become. They are like a seed.
   When a seed grows to become a tree, it is NOT something the seed chooses to do. The acorn  doesn't sit in the ground thinking  “When I grow up I’m going to become a weeping willow”. An acorn is born with the potential to become a oak, and it is only throughout a series of very specific conditions, experiences and events that it can reach its full potential, an oak tree.
  The vocation to motherhood is something like an acorn.  It is a vocation which is present in every woman, but it takes a series of very specific conditions and experiences in the life of this woman to reach the full potential of this vocation. And here I would like to make another a very important point about the vocations to the diaconate and motherhood. In the same way a man doesn't need to be ordained to reach his full potential as a servant to others, a woman is not required to have biological children to be true to this vocation. The call to motherhood is a call that goes beyond biology. Look at Mother Teresa who was a mother to millions of people, think of the Mary who is mother  to the whole human race; there is a reason why we call her Our Blessed Mother! In my own life I can say and I’m sure you can say the same thing, I have had the benefit of many true mothers who have helped me, supported me and given me the maternal love we all require from time to time.
  Now I have been talking about how the call to be a deacon and the call to be  mother are similar. Before I finish today, I would like to touch on one very important difference between these two. Sometimes after spending the day ministering to the People of God, and I think all the mothers here will relate to this, there are times in which  I end up feeling frustrated, tired, and even hurt. The difference is that I can always count with the support and motherly love I get in my own home from my wife and kids. Many mothers, especially those who suffer quietly for their husbands or their children sometimes have no one to turn to.
   Today I would like to finish with a word of encouragement to those brave women who suffer quietly. In times of confusion and fear listen to the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be”. You are not alone, God has given you a very important job, and you are fulfilling it to the best of your ability. Be certain that your sufferings do not go unnoticed, offer these to God as pure sacrifices for your family. And remember “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” ...You are the cornerstone of your family, and today we want to say to you that we love you and appreciate everything you do for us, even if sometimes we do not show it. God bless you and Happy Mother’s Day!