John’s gospel opens with, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Focusing on a parental image of love to show how deep Jesus’ love is for us is a perfect way to begin a gospel on Mother’s Day.
In this short gospel selection from John, Jesus assures the disciples about how much he cares for them and implores them to do the same for each other. It is just days before he ascends into heaven. He wants them to be sure of how much he cares whether he is right next to them or not. He also wants them to spread his message and his love.
Jesus’ words are clear. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Mothers often live this commandment quietly–in the darkness as they pick up a crying baby, on a special day as they shed a proud tear, in moments of worry, concern or celebration. Mothers are a simple, beautiful example of what Jesus means about loving one another as He loved.
Mothers share love through their everyday actions. They do not wonder what is in it for them. Sacrifices are often made without a second thought, usually because Moms are not focused on the sacrifice. They are focused on their children. The sacrifices come easily when the basis of it all is love.
In the second reading, John reminds us, “For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome…”
When we begin with love and follow Jesus, the burdens and sacrifices fall away. Jesus challenges us to tackle all our difficulties with love for each other as the constant. Share a smile with a stranger. Lend a hand rather than make a judgment. Give of your talents and your time.
If you think of each person as a child of God and share with the unceasing love of a parent, you will fulfill Jesus’ message: “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
Patrice Athanasidy has been an Associate with the Sisters of Charity since 1997. She serves as a media specialist with several Catholic institutions and is a freelance writer for publications including Catholic New York and Hudson Valley Magazine. Patrice and her husband, William, are the proud parents of three children.