Sunday, May 8, 2016
A Mother's Love
Today we celebrate both the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and Mother’s Day. The religious feast we will celebrate to the end of time, the secular, well, I’m not so sure. And that makes me sad to contemplate.
In one way, both the Ascension and Mother’s Day celebrate the same thing: unconditional love. Unconditional love is not looked upon in our society favorably these days. Self-love, egoism, narcissism, these are esteemed today, as is love given to those who, in our perception, merit the effort of our love. No, today love comes with MANY conditions, if given at all, it is far from unconditional.
In the news this week I read an article celebrating a scientist who had made some discovery; he was labeled “great”. Also celebrated in the article was how he prized science, and denigrated the “stupid” who followed any religion. There is no god, he believed --- and pushed for you to believe--- because well, he knows more than you. But, to me, it matters not what he thinks or says, I will love and pray for this creation of God, this self-loving man, anyway. Another article this week celebrated that women are marrying much later in life, if at all, and so are no longer held back from being what THEY want to be. Two articles, both of which, it seems to me, are representative of the priorities in our culture.
Great religious scholars say that a defining feature of hell is that there is no love there. For all the self-loving scientists and feminists and all others who so adore themselves and the adulation of others for their self-perceived greatness, I wonder what this hell might be like for them. For in this definition of hell, there will be no adulation of others. There will be no more unconditional love of them or their self-perceived greatness, by anyone. There will only be themselves, loving themselves, alone. I can’t imagine what they will feel like, having obtained this ultimate victory of what they prized in their lives, and feeling so alone.
I wrote about David and Eric who I saw in concert in my church last week. David looked into the eyes of people at Planned Parenthood who had no value for another’s life; he looked into the eyes of evil. He said he could bear it by praying that all the evil they spread was returned to them triple in grace. Frightening evil, yet he loved them despite their actions. Eric spoke about the growing efforts in Canada to enact legislation to allow and even encourage assisted suicide, for the disabled, for the unwanted, and for the elderly. He spoke to me personally before the concert about his plans to buy a large farm, where he would love those whom this world no longer wants to love. He later spoke to our church gathering about the Canadian official who celebrated that there are now few Down’s Syndrome babies born in Canada (or in the U.S.); they are all aborted. And then Eric spoke of his Down’s Syndrome daughter, who loves, unconditionally, like no one else he knows. My brother Eddie was like that.
I am now reading a book titled “As We Await the Blessed Hope,” by Mark Kyriakos. It is an extensive study of End Times references in Scripture and scholarly opinions. There are many interesting insights in the book, and many scary ones too, but none more so than these words: “Jesus, in speaking of those days, says, ‘because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold’ (MT 24:12.), The Greek word for ‘love’ used here is agape --- unconditional love.” The end will come when unconditional love grows cold.
Last week at the COC board meeting (www.cocliving.com), I arrived to see a man and woman sitting alone at the end of the table. They were two of the developmentally-disabled people who live in our homes, and for whom we care. As I sat down between them I said “I want to sit with you guys tonight,” and they both smiled, and I elicited conversation from both on how their world was treating them. Then the meeting began --- and it went long. Both of my friends patiently, quietly, looked through the many meeting handouts, obviously confused as to their meaning. When the meeting ended, I picked up the papers they had left on the table and was chatting with some of the other board members when suddenly I noticed the lady I had sat next to standing patiently at my side, waiting for my attention. I turned to her, smiled, and was about to speak when she held her arms out and up to me. Wordlessly, she wanted a hug, to thank me for sitting with her.
Unconditional love; why would anyone celebrate its passing?
The Ascension and Mother’s Day both celebrate unconditional love. During mass as we stood praying, Fr. Ed said:”Would all the men sit down now, please; women remain standing?” And then after a moment he said:”I did not say mothers should remain standing, I said women remain standing.” And after some more shuffling in the pews, Fr. Ed went on to explain the unique gift of loving God gives to women; only they can exhibit a mother’s love. And whether they are mothers to children or mothers to the society we live in, their unique form of love is greatly, greatly needed in this world. And so we celebrated them, all women, and we prayed for them. After mass we celebrated all the moms, and their many, many children present at mass.
Father concluded by reminding us that we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday. “And as we focus on Pentecost this week, please remember to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to teach you to love. Our country, this world, so needs more love.”