Sixth Sunday of Easter – Mother’s Day
Reading I Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Reading II 1 John 4:7-10
Gospel John 15:9-17
If you have been picking up the drift since Easter Sunday, the Scriptures keep opening our eyes and our ears to realize that beginning with Pentecost the Spirit is sent to us and now it is our ball game. And so it is for you and me to realize: “I have to remember this. I have to pass this on. The only thing that is going to be alive is the Spirit of God within me. That the Son is going home with the Father, and the Father and the Son will send the Spirit, and some day I am going home and that whole circle will be complete — but it has to be a circle of love.”
I would like for you to think of an experience from your childhood that involves something about your Mom. Remember some event about your mom and your family that may have seemed like an ordinary thing at the time, but now in your later years and in your giftedness you have taken that same habit or practice, not the same way, but in your own way and continue it today. The things that happen in our childhood never really leave us.
Our moms are blessed to be there through the whole process. We really depend on mom and as long as mom is there that is what is important — until we get out on our own and then have to make our own decisions. So you think about it.
I am going to share a couple of stories with you. Right down the street here on Adams used to be a tavern called the Silver Dollar. My grandparents only lived a couple of blocks away so the tavern was in the neighborhood. In the summertime, Sunday afternoon and evenings were often spent there at their house. Often the whole family would go down to the Silver Dollar Tavern. The place was packed with kids. The bartender probably went straight to heaven. He couldn’t control the mess.
We would go there and the parents would sit at the tables and talk, and the kids would go outside and play shuffleboard and other games and have fun. No one went there to get drunk, and if they did it was accidental. You went there to be family and to enjoy the neighborhood.
That experience is no big deal, but what it showed to all of us children is that family is important. If one parent came outside while we were playing and said, “All you guys move over here” — everybody did just that. One parent had just as much influence as the next parent. And the kids realized that there is something to life.
Another story I remember: My grandfather was a barber and he had a stroke. Naturally when you lose the use of one hand there is no way you can cut hair. So he had to retire instantly. He enjoyed smoking and my grandmother would hide his cigarettes. She would let him have one cigarette ever so often but that was it. When he smoked a cigarette the butts went in the ashtray. Well, when my grandmother was not around, he would ask me to go get the ashtray and then he would pick out the butt that had the most left on it, light it, get a few smokes, and put it back in the ashtray. He would say, “Now don’t tell Grandmother.” I didn’t realize I was being used. I thought, “That’s what grandpa wants, that’s what grandpa gets.”
These are the kind of moments I want you to remember regarding your own family. And as we celebrate Mother’s Day, and think about our own family experiences, we realize our moms have given us so much — they have given us life and joy and happiness.
The real gifts of Mother’s Day are not only the gifts she has given us and we give to her, but it is also a time when the family can gather. Often it is easy to take Mom for granted. Now is the time to say, “We just want you to know that everything you do is appreciated.”
That is what Jesus is trying to pass on to us. He says, “What we learn in childhood, we remember, and we pass it on.” All of you who are parents here, you will probably raise your kids the same way you were raised. And your kids are going to raise their kids the same way you raised them.
That’s the power of how God’s love remains in us. Remember the story last week about the vine and the branches. The vine is that family history that keeps on growing. It just keeps spreading out in many different ways. It is never perfect, but it is filled with so much love. And so today as we honor our moms, it is all about that virtue of remaining in love. Jesus says, “I died on the cross and that is the ultimate love. So I am asking you in your life, from time to time, to sacrifice for others.” We all do it, but sometimes we don’t reflect on how God uses that love to make a difference.
So may you and I just realize that as we leave church today, we are doing something and we do it all the time — and that it is that experience of coming together and sharing each other’s love. When we go out those doors, that love is going to stay with us. The memories are going to stay with us. Then you and I will have the Easter joy for the rest of our lives.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.