Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Mothers Show Us the Meaning of Jesus’ Commandment

Mothers Show Us the Meaning of Jesus’ Commandment

In the Gospel for this weekend which comes from John 15: 9-17, Jesus continues his “Farewell Discourse,” teaching the apostles about how to continue to grow in, and spread, the faith. Jesus says: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” and “this is my commandment, love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.

From an early age, our mothers, whom we celebrate today, help us to know what love is all about. An emotion, but also much more – a way of life that includes sacrifice.

It’s no secret that my primary hobby is photography; I love going places far and wide in pursuit of birds, wildlife and landscape photos. And in the rectory are some pictures I’ve taken over the years.

But among the things I value most are two paintings, made a little over 40 years apart.

One is a painting of a field in England. It was made from a picture in a book. My mom painted it just before she married my dad, likely circa 1975. The colors and detail are striking and it would be worthy to be in any gallery. For years it hung above the sofa in my grandma and grandpa’s home, as she gave it as a gift to my dad’s parents.

The other is much more recent. It’s of Minneopa Falls in Mankato. I took the photo of the falls a few years ago with the setting sun and fall foliage around the falls. My mom turned it into a painting.

So where are the paintings in between 1975 and 2021? Well, mom was just using a different canvas and paints I’d say. She was creating beautiful art with her soul.

When I came along in 77, some early memories were of mom sometimes drawing things like cartoon characters and other little bits of art, but most of all spending time with me. As a kid, she was always there; she helped me to learn to ride a bike, tie my shoes, how to read. She was there to console me after a bad day and lift my spirits. She was there to make a favorite meal, but most of all to fill my soul with love and joy. As the years would go by, she’d be there to help with both homework and learning cribbage and Monopoly, to go on family trips with, to make meals and bake cookies and cakes for the family, along with so many other things that would fill exceed the allotted space in this bulletin.

On top of that, I’ve seen her life out her faith through all she’s done for others, working hard with dad on our first home in North Minneapolis, working hard at her jobs, helping her parents and in-laws as they aged, and doing so many other amazing things over the years.

From her, I’ve learned so much about the faith in action, in how she has put this commandment of Jesus into practice.

For one, there’s the selfless love, giving and doing so much not just for me but for my sister, and our grandparents who lived nearby in North Minneapolis that she helped through the years.

There was also putting God front and center as we would faithfully go to Mass every week.

Then there was her sacrifice that I learned more about as I grew older. Mom is pretty humble, but she’s an amazing artist (did I mention that yet?). Getting married and living the busy life of a mom, instead of spending her spare time painting, she opted to put more energy into both working in an office job and being a full time mom, meaning she didn’t have as much time for her hobby. But never once in my life have I ever heard her complain.

And then there’s the patience. She was always patient as I tried to learn both academics but how to sort out my path in life. Like most all of us, I look back on certain parts of my life and wonder what I was thinking as I tried to sort everything out from my faith to vocation to having tunnel vision on this or that. But through it all, mom was patient knowing that I’d eventually figure things out.

Like my mom, and like all humans, I am truly still a work in progress. But I can honestly say that as I strive to grow in holiness, the road to heaven is easier to find because God, in His wisdom, has given me great people to help me find the way there like my mom, Mary.

And so to all of our mothers, thank you. Thank you for getting up in the middle of the night when we were infants. Thank you for helping us to tie our shoes, to sound out the words in books, and how to write. Thank you for lifting up our spirits when we were down. Thank you for giving us the confidence and helping us to believe in ourselves when it seemed like we couldn’t do something or wanted to give up. Thank you for listening, and helping us to grow. Thank you for the incredible difficulty it took to let go as we got on the school bus for the first time, and went off to college or work. Thank you for your patience when you wondered if the stork got the wrong address and we went through mood swings and crazy times as teenagers. Thank you for your prayers, for your example in all you’ve done for us and so many others. For through you, no matter what life throws at us, we will know the way to follow Jesus because you’ve helped us to stay on that road, and illuminated it through the testament of your lives. Never forget the importance of your vocation and of all that you have done for your children.

Yep, mom is one heck of an artist and I’m so glad she’s rediscovered her talent and shares it. Now I just have to convince her to enter some competitions! But I have to say, as much as I love her paintings, I just love seeing her spend time with my nephew, Henry who is 7. She is full of smiles and love and Henry has confided in me of how “awesome” grandma and grandpa’s house is. What I love is how it reminds me again of how she truly personifies exactly what Jesus told us about love, and reminded me of how great my childhood was when I was his age, but even more so of how blessed I am in my life to have greater clarity on how to get to heaven because of my mom.

God bless our moms, and all of you – and have a great week.

Fr. Paul

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May 2021

 

 

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