The Center is Love – My Vocation is Love!
Here is a link to the readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Here is a link to the readings for Ascension Sunday (or Thursday in some places).
When my mother was born, my grandmother was singing, “You are my sunshine.” That’s how my grandmother told the story anyways, and it’s lovely. It reminds me of God’s own assessment of all of creation in Genesis: “It is good… it is good… it is very good” (cf. Genesis 1). It also reminds me of the baptism of Jesus, when the Father’s voice is heard from the heavens proclaiming, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
On Mother’s Day, I think of the joy of so many women who delight in their “sunshine” and their “beloved,” especially, of course, my own mother and my sisters-in-law. Whether through birth or adoption or simply stepping in to care for children when needed, mothers are indeed a reflection of God’s Love in our midst. I am grateful for all of you. Our world is better because of the sacrifices you make to create a home and a healthy upbringing for so many children (even adult children!)
I also think about those women who have lost children, sometimes in the womb through the tragedy of a miscarriage or the now regretted choice of an abortion; sometimes later because of illnesses, accidents, or some other tragedy to which we are all-too vulnerable. Mother’s Day may be a time of private and profound grief. It may be the same for those whose mothers have gone home to God. Our faith in the resurrection does not take away the sorrow and the pain of loss. For those whose own mothers did not reflect God’s love, who abused or abandoned them, this might also be a particularly difficult day. And for women who long to be mothers but for whom that hasn’t happened, there may be a sense of loss and longing as well. The brokenness of the world affects all of us in different ways. For all who experience Mother’s Day without great joy, my heart is with you too. You are equally the beloved of God, and your own suffering and sacrifices, sometimes known to you and God alone, are joined to the Cross of Christ to give life to the world. I hope there is some comfort in knowing that, in holding onto it in faith and hope.
Mary is often called the Theotόkos, which we translate as The Mother of God. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, the bishops decided on this term in the midst of a controversy. On one side, there were those who believed Mary should be called only the Christotόkos, that is, The Mother of Christ. This had little to do with Mary, actually. The debates were about the nature of Christ. To affirm Mary as the Mother of God, and not merely the Mother of Christ, was to affirm that Jesus was indeed the Incarnate God from the first moment of his conception. To call her the Mother of God (or “The God-bearer” to be more accurate, though the Greek was translated into Latin as Mater Dei, Mother of God) is really to affirm a central teaching about Christ, that he is “true God and true man,” “fully human and fully divine.”
If the motherhood of Mary is ultimately about Christ, then so too is every form of motherhood. In fact, every vocation from motherhood and fatherhood, to celibate priesthood and religious life, to the single life and widowhood, is only a vocation at all if it is grounded in Christ and oriented to Christ. In this sense, Mother’s Day is one particular day for celebrating the work of Christ in the world. It is a celebration of vocation!
Jesus prayed “that they may share my joy completely.” In whatever vocation we find ourselves, in whatever work Christ has committed to us, we are invited into the fullness of Christ’s own joy. It is not without sacrifice and suffering—after all, we follow the One who went to the Cross and told us to take up our crosses daily and follow him (Luke 9:23). Jesus prayed for us, acknowledging that “the world hated them because they do not belong to the world.” Nonetheless, our vocation—lives and work united to the life and mission of Christ as Christ calls us uniquely into discipleship—will bring the deep joy that comes from living in love.
Whether a mother or a father, whether single or widowed, whether suffering loss or longing, whether feeling loved or feeling lonely, we know the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila: “All things are passing; God only is changeless.” As the wheel of fortune goes around, we may find ourselves on top of the world, or on the ride up, or on the ride down, or at the very bottom. The best place to be, as Bishop Barron reminds us, is in the center. The center is God, who does not change. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” The center is Love. No matter where we find ourselves in life, no matter what we have been through, no matter where the wheel of fortune is bringing us, we exist in the Center. With The Little Flower, we exclaim: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!”
Photo credit for the roses: Mike Kenneally on Unsplash
Photo credit for the pregnant woman: https://stocksnap.io/author/joshwillink
Photo credit for the icon of Mary: M.MIGLIORATO/CPP/CIRIC
Photo credit for the photo of the photo of St. Therese: ©MASSIMILIANO MIGLIORATO/CPP
Marion CollinsPosted at 10:30h, 17 May
Thank you, Kevin for highlighting that Mother’s Day is a reflection of God’s Love.
Your empathy for women who have lost babies through miscarriage or abortion or older children through illness or accidents and violence including those who feel sorrow at the loss of a Mother is so wonderfully inclusive of all of us! Women who suffer and sacrifice and are sometimes known to God alone
are also loved and supported by Him.
All women and men who are in nurturing roles are Beloved of God!
Mary is known as the Mother of God, holds a lofty position for us yet suffered more than any other Mother as most of us have not seen our sons tormented on the Way of the Cross or Crucified.
We are constantly reminded that Jesus was “true God and true man.” and we have been given a Vocation by God.
Mother’s Day is indeed a Day of Thanksgiving and one during which we should examine our personal Vocation and make sure it is God-centered. Unlike Mary who found her Vocation through the words of the Angel Gabriel and the love of God, we must find our personal Vocation through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Our Vocation should be Discipleship seen in many different forms and always God-centered so that we may reach out to our children, brothers and sisters, with His Love!
Kevin, thank you for the quote from Scripture, “God Is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him”. Sometimes we get caught up in details and need to be grounded while we celebrate on Mother’s Day!
Bayard, thank you , as always, for the blog of Kevin Dowd. It reaffirms all women that Love is indeed our Vocation when we are centered in God who is Love.
Adriana GarciaPosted at 19:07h, 23 May
Thank you. A two-word comment so used and almost meaningless when spoken and expected. There is almost no meaning behind it at times other than the appropriate words to say at that moment. Saying and meaning it really don’t make a difference when said. Verbal expression comes easy, cheap and a dime a dozen. If you really want your “thank you” to have true value, then stop saying it and substitute it with an act. An act of kindness, recognition, acknowledgement. A behavior from you instead that really speaks louder than those two simple words-“thank you.” when you start approaching your thank yous’ in this way, you begin to KNOW what true gratitude is.