7th SUNDAY of Easter and Mother’s Day -- 13 May 2018 •• Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 •• Psalm 98 •• 1 John 4:7-10 •• + John 15:9-17 ••
[__01__] In a mystery – in something mysterious – we have reason to believe – historically, politically, fictionally – that there is something being denied or some denial … denial causes a disconnection.
As a result of the denial,
information is withheld, a story is not told fully, we feel we are not getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
On the other hand, “denial” – in the Christian sense and our Lord’s sense - in terms of “restraint” or “sacrifice” - can demonstrate a great truth.
Now …Jesus did not say this …but this is what we read on T-shirts and refrigerator magnets: “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.”
Jesus does not say it that way, but says – “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Denial – or sacrifice – is good news.
[__02__] This Sunday, we give thanks – gratitude – for the connections made and commitments made by our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers for all those who – in small and great ways – denied themselves for our greater good.
They denied or at least postponed their own satisfaction for the greater good of their own children and family.
[__03__] Denial – that is, denial or sacrifice of my own needs – can build community, friendship, and freedom.
It is a paradox but by learning to “deny” ourselves, to delay our own satisfaction, this is how we truly become free. On the other hand, when we say YES to everything we can become a prisoner to our own desires.
As Catholics and Christians, we believe that this friendship and freedom is part of the dignity and sanctity of life at all stages, of the dignity of every person.
We are called to befriend, to care for, to pray for the lives of the unborn person, of the elderly person, of the infirm person, to put their lives before our own.
This promotes not simply adherence to a commandment but acknowledgement of a community and the friendship and freedom – and right to life –we all desire. Denial = freedom.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
“Anyone who would be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
[__04__] I also suggest that denial not only produces “connection” and community … but does so when there is a plan involved.
To make a good denial – to deny – we need a plan, right?
This is true also when there is a surprise party or gathering. I cite this as one such example…
[__05__] We needed a plan. In early October 2010, my mother thought she was going to a party scheduled for her grandson, who was little, who was a newborn, recently baptized and visiting – cross-country - from Los Angeles.
Anticipating this party, this plan, my mother called up her friends to invite them to celebrate. They did not call her back.
Denial. Mystery. What was going on?
But, the party was not a celebration for the visitor and visitors from Hotel-California side of the familybut rather a celebration, a 70th birthday for my mother.
Fortunately, the people she was inviting were already on the “real” guest list.
[__06__] In order to have the mystery – to maintain the mystery – we the family (except for my mother) had to connect, talk with each other, agree on certain details… and carefully figure out when and where to have these conversations.
We had to deny ourselves. My father had to deny himself and was tempted several times to talk about menus and seating.
Denial – mystery – invites us to be quiet, to silence.
In everyday things, isn’t it true that we are called a quiet talks with God as well.
Mystery invites us to a connection – and talk - with God also. In our mysterious connection with God, we know that God is everywhere… but He also desires to talk with us at specific times and places, such as Sunday Mass and also when we go to sleep at night.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, families - God bless for your efforts to pray – to bend the knee with your children – to pray with them so that they will know God’s love for them is REAL.
[__07__] The party was a celebration for my mother which she enjoyed very much …but it was also a celebration for all of us to share, a mystery for all of us to manage and enjoy, to be connected in joy.
Somehow, it was a birthday for all of us – and this was highlighted by the comment of my brother’s daughter – Scarlett – who was 8 years old getting into the car after the music, after the meal, the cake, the games, et cetera et cetera.
After all that, Scarlett could say aloud for my mother to hear:
“This is the best day of my entire life.”
That was real. It was not a denial. It was not just apparently true. That was real.
And, it was real and true for my mother to share her day, her gladness with a child and to take her home.Jesus also takes us home, and invites us to take him home, to school, to our friends so that we can – mysteriously and really – share his heart, his communion, his friendship and freedom, his sacrifice, his Body and Blood which is laid down and poured out for us each day. [__fin__]