LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL

6th Sunday of Easter           

            There is a story about two tribes that were at war. One tribe lived in the lowlands and the other high in the mountains. The mountain people invaded the lowlanders one day. As part of their plundering, they kidnapped a baby and took the infant with them into the mountains.

            The lowlanders did not know how to climb the mountain. They did not know any of the trails that the mountain people used, and they did not know where to find the mountain people or how to track them in the steep terrain. Even so, they sent out their best party of fighting men to climb the mountain and bring the baby home.

            The men tried first one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had climbed only several hundred feet. Feeling frustrated, hopeless, and helpless, the lowlander men decided that the cause was lost, and they prepared to return to their village below.

            As they were about to go down, they saw the baby’s mother walking toward them. They realized that she was coming down the mountain that they had not figured out how to climb. And then they saw that she had the baby strapped to her back.

            How could that be? One man greeted her and said, “We couldn’t climb this mountain. How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn’t do it?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It wasn’t your baby.”

            The anecdote speaks of the sacrificial love, which today’s gospel reading also talks about. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Perhaps, you will agree with me if I say that mothers are the best example of a love which manifests itself in laying down “one’s life for one’s friends” – in laying down their lives for their children.

            We thank God for giving us mothers whose love mirrors God’s love. I am not talking about “perfect mothers” with a “perfect love.” A mother’s love does not have to be perfect to mirror God’s love. There is something so pure within a mother’s heart that it mirrors the love God has for us, that it reflects God’s loving presence on earth.

            There is nothing that a good mother will not do for her child.  Of course, some of us are at that stage of life when it is our mothers or parents who need our sacrificial love. It is part of the circle of life. Our parents provided for our needs when we were young, but now it is they who have pressing needs. Who will be there for them? You may be part of what is often referred to as the “sandwich generation” – caught between the needs of your children and the needs of your aging parents. That really is a difficult place.

            You remember the many sacrifices your Mom or Dad made in your behalf. Now you watch sadly as your parents struggle with aging. Again, it is not easy. Jesus never promised that it would be easy. But love is sacrificial.

            As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we ought to ask ourselves: How can we and how should we manifest Christ’s sacrificial love, especially to our mothers? It may mean sparing your mother from unnecessary suffering by being more sensitive and responsive to her needs. It may mean spending more time with you mother – both quantity and quality time – to be present to them and journey with them as they cope and struggle with aging. It may mean listening more attentively to your mother, not only to the things she says explicitly, but to the non-verbal expressions of pain, sadness, loneliness, fear, anxiety. It may mean asking forgiveness from your mother for failing to love and take care of her as you should. It may mean extending forgiveness to your mother, even without asking from you – forgive her for failing to love you as you wanted to.

            Someone said that after God, the one deserving our respect and love is first our mother, second our mother, and third our mother. I truly believe that the love of our mothers are the greatest mirror of God’s unconditional love, the best reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love.

            The best gift we can give to our mothers – not only today, but any given day – is our sacrificial love in their behalf. As our mothers have done for us, may we also be a manifestation of Christ’s sacrificial love for them. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

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