Today is Mothers Day not only in the US, but here in Honduras.
I was asked to share a reflection this morning at the Celebration of the Word in Plan Grande where I live. Padre German also asked me to share a reflection at the Mass this afternoon in El Zapote de Santa Rosa. Here are some of the thoughts that are running through my heart.
The readings all point to God’s love – even the first reading where Peter, on encountering the Roman Cornelius, realizes that God makes no distinction.
We are called to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Not because it is an obligation but because it comes from our experience of being loved.
For, as John writes (1 John 4: 10):
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us first and sent his Son…
If we are open to the experience of being loved by God we will be better prepared to love.
Often this experience of God’s love comes through our parents or others in our life. And so we are called to love so that others may experience, thought us, something of the love of God.
But this love is not sentimental.
For Jesus said in today’s Gospel (John 15: 12-13):
Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love for friends than to hand over one’s life for them.
We often look upon martyrdom as the ultimate sign of love. But I believe that one cannot give up one’s life at the moment of martyrdom if one has not been giving it up day after day.
As I prayed these words of the Gospel I remembered a quote of Monseñer Oscar Romero – soon to be beatified.
In his spiritual diary on February 25, 1980, less than four weeks before he was martyred, he wrote
My disposition is to give my life for God, whatever might be the end of my life. The circumstances [of the end of my life] which are unknown will be lived with the grace of God. He helped the martyrs and if it is necessary I will feel Him very close when I hand over my last breath. But worth more than the moment of death is handing over to Him all my life and living for Him.
It is not the moment of death that make a martyr a saint; it is the daily giving of oneself over to God and others that makes one able to be a martyr and a saint.
The message of Romero and the message of Jesus is not a one-time martyrdom but a daily dying to oneself and living for God and for others.
Romero did it by listening to the poor, visiting the people in their villages, welcoming the family members of victims of persecution, denouncing injustice from the pulpit, and living in a small house in a cancer hospital for the poor.
What would make us able to hand over our lives as martyrs? Or, better, how are we handing over our lives every day?