READINGS: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Psalm 103: 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11b-19
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day AND the final Sunday of Eastertide before Pentecost. Mothers’ Day is a Hallmark creation and moms are showered with gifts beyond all other days. We cannot forget our mothers today, but first, let us focus for a few moments on our Sunday readings from Acts of the Apostles, the First Letter of John, and a Gospel story about the final wishes of a man who expects to die soon, Jesus our Redeemer. His love for us brings us to his mind in his final hours!
In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, we witness Peter’s growing awareness of his role as leader of the community in Jerusalem as he calls the apostles together for a serious task. The words of the prayer of the apostles before electing someone to take the place of Judas are filled with praise of God. They express truth and recognize God’s presence among them:
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place”
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all …” – The words express faith in God who knows each of us to the depths of our souls. God knows the desires and intentions of the human heart. Faith moves the community at prayer to trust in God as they seek to know God’s choice. Matthias was elected.
Next we hear a passage from a letter from John who was present at the Crucifixion and who took care of Mary, Jesus’ mother. John is writing to the early Christian community when he is an old man. His affection is apparent in the message. He reminds us that we are Beloved of God and he concludes that “if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” That mutual relationship of love and the price paid to show us the strength of love, the touch of love, bring John to say that God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God abides in her/him. God! Who loves us from forever and remains with us through all our lives and into eternity.
Finally, the Gospel account of Jesus on the night before he died shows the depth of his love for us, that he would think of us and pray for us particularly at that time. We are the ones he asked his Father to keep in His name. Jesus was passionate about keeping us one. It was His dying wish that we would be one as he and his Father are one. I offer this prayer from the Cornerstone Community, Belfast, Northern Ireland:
Prayer for Unity in Christ
Lord Jesus, who on the eve of your death, prayed that all your disciples might be one …
make us feel intense sorrow over the infidelity of our disunity.
Give us the honesty to recognize, and the courage to reject, whatever indifference towards one another, or mutual distrust, or even enmity, lie within us.
Enable all of us to meet one another in you, and let your prayer for the unity of Christians be ever in our hearts and on our lips, unity such as you desire it and by the means that you will.
Make us find the way that leads to unity in you, who are perfect charity, through being obedient to the Spirit of love and truth. Amen.
As Jesus prayed for us he knew that his life was going to end, and so he recounts his efforts during his time on earth. We can imagine listening in as Jesus spoke to his Father about us, his beloved friends:
“I protected them.”
“I guarded them.”
“I sent them into the world.”
“I consecrate myself for them.”
As I ponder these words of Jesus I remember God’s love and the ones in our lives who protected us, who guarded us and who sent us into the world; those who consecrated themselves for us, our mothers! Most often they were and are the ones who teach us to pray and pass on the faith. I thought about the virtue of Wisdom personified in scripture as a woman: “Wisdom has built herself a house.” Justice holding the scales is a feminine figure. Peace is often depicted in women’s examples as the fruit of wisdom and justice.
May God, our Mother and our Father, continue to bless all mothers.
May each of us be blessed with wisdom to act in justice and have peace in the end.
Let us look forward to welcoming the Spirit, our life source and inspiration!
–Karen Helfenstein, SC
Sr. Karen is a nurse and health administrator who has spent most of her life and work in Catholic healthcare. Currently she serves as the Director of Sponsorship Services for the Sisters of Charity of New York.
Karen, thank you for an inspiring reflection. I say “Amen” to it!