Moms: God’s Herald

Madonna and ChildToday’s reflection is for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 12, 2019, and the readings can be found by clicking here. This reflection was given as a homily at the Deuel Vocational Institute, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in Tracy.

Happy Mother’s Day! Today’s reflection is a call to give thanks, pray, and reflect. In today’s Gospel, Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (JN 10:27)

In my own life I had a wonderful conversion experience where I actually heard God speak to me in the depths of my being. Just as loud and as clear as can be, I heard the voice of God. He is my shepherd, I heard his voice, chose to follow him, and have been given eternal life—and not just me, but all those who hear the voice of the shepherd and follow him.

But the important point for us today, is not whether or not I heard God’s voice, but how I knew it was the voice of the Lord when I heard it—and that’s why I live in thanksgiving today. Because my mom was faithful, and for her I give thanks. My mom got us out of bed on Sundays and holy days of obligation and drove us into town to go to Church whether we wanted to or not. She made us say prayers before meals and before bed whether we wanted to or not. I remember very vividly her lying to us at bed time. “We’re only going to say one decade of the rosary,” she promised, but we all knew we were doing five! She signed us up and made sure we attended CCD. She taught CCD, was a lector, ensured I was an altar boy, and eventually a lector and commentator—and now, God willing, a deacon.

It was she, during this time of great distress, difficulty, and hardship, that my mom put a roof over our head, put food on the table, ensured that we were clothed, had something to drink when we were thirsty, and put our sunscreen on when it was hot outside. When we were successful in school and in life she was there to celebrate with us, and when we were unsuccessful and failed, she was there for a warm embrace and to dry our tears. My mom took care of us (and continues to care for us) while on this earth, but more importantly, she taught us to hear, recognize, and respond to the call of God in our life to be his disciples. She is God’s great herald to me. She invited me into a relationship with the one who could give me eternal life that never perishes. No greater gift could be given by any mother to her children. Thanks, mom.

John tells us today in his vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem that, “The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” That’s what my mom has been doing my whole life! It’s as though God gave me my mom as a foretaste of a relationship with him so that I would more strongly desire what was to come. My mom both created the want within me to experience the love of God and taught me to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd that I might follow and lie down in green pastures forever.

The “elder” tells John, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.” The goal of our life is to stand before God’s throne and worship him for all eternity. My mom started me on the road to salvation and rejoices in the robe that I wear. Thank you, mom. Thanks be to God that our churches today are filled with moms who take up the mantle, who get their children ready for church, who sign them up for catechism, and who encourage them to say their prayers at night. So often I see church’s filled with women and children. I give thanks to those women today.

I also want to pray today for those mothers who have struggled and who continue to struggle with temptation, with unhealthy desires, and with addictions of various types. I believe very strongly that Satan’s strategy after breaking down the family, is to break down women. It is within the family that God’s warriors are formed, and when families are broken it is overwhelming moms who raise Christian soldiers. We need strong women now more than ever! We need strong families now more than ever. And so, we pray. On this Mother’s Day pray for strong marriages and pray for strong women who continue to do the great work of raising disciples of Jesus Christ who hear the shepherd’s voice, courageously say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” Yes, today we give thanks and pray.

Finally, we reflect on the foot of the cross where Jesus gave the Church his own mother as an example for women, and comfort for all children. Jesus told his mother, “Woman, behold your son, John, behold your mother.” (John 19:25) We have our mothers here on earth, but Jesus made sure we always had his mother as well. Every generation is invited to accept Jesus’ mother, to take her into our home, and allow us to share the love that she had for her son. She gives all mothers an opportunity to reflect on how she might have handled one situation or another, and to go to her in prayer to ask for guidance, support, and advice. She is the perfect model of motherhood as her son fulfilled God’s will for him on this earth and remains an inspiration for mothers supporting God’s calling for their own children as they fulfill their own vocation. Mary should be on the mind of every mother as their children bring them the joys and struggles of motherhood. Therefore, we reflect time and time again on how Mary is an example of motherhood as she leads ever deeper into a relationship with her son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Moms are amazing, give thanks. Moms are humans who are tempted and fail, pray. Mary is every mother’s model, reflect. Amen. Happy Mother’s Day!

For Reflection

Have I given sufficient honor and thanks to my mother who brought me into a relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ?

Do I pray for my mom, wife, sister, or coworkers struggling to steer clear of temptation and raise their children to know the Lord?

Do I often reflect on Mary’s life, and to what degree have I brought her into my home as the Lord commanded?

By Deacon Stephen Valgos

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