Good morning my fellow moms! It’s a beautiful morning, filled with possibilities! Remember that God loves us, exhorting us to do our best, be our best. God wants to encourage us to always follow Him, look to Him during the good times and bad.
There is a relationship between the two readings of today. We have Ruth a Moabite woman staying with her mother-in-law and the Greatest Commandment Gospel.
The Greatest Commandment shows the relationship we must have with each other and God.
Ruth’s staying with her mother-in-law, Naomi, is a great example of the Great Commandment. Ruth’s mother-in-law must have been a wonderfully gentle woman. The women had a very close relationship and neither could think of leaving the other. Ruth was so dedicated to her, loved her, was friends with her that she says to Naomi: “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
The love of Ruth and her mother-in-law binds each to the other, just as when we love our neighbours we are bound to our community, to others. If that love is deep and committed it reflects our Love for God. Can we say to God, promise God that His people shall be our people? Not an easy thing, but one of the most important part of the Great Commandment.
Divine Wisdom help me not to abandon or forsake You. For where you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, Your people shall be my people.
From the first reading of today’s Mass: “Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. ‘If you deliver the Ammonites into my power,” he said, “whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the LORD. I shall offer him up as a burnt offering.’” The focus of the reading is the story of a beloved daughter who left her family and finds herself in a prostitute and the prophet Jephthah promises God he will pray to change people lives when he encounters them. And from the Gospel: The King has prepared for the wedding feast but when he sends out his trusted servants to gather the guests they are killed. “Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?”
These readings have a great deal of power because they speak so much to my mothering soul. As a mom with older children I look back on my mothering journey and my children and see so much of what is happening in the readings as things, I experienced as a mom. The Ammonites they can be seen as things that our children can become involved in that we, as mom, are called to try and guide them away from. You will see I didn’t say protect, but guide. For me to protect is not giving them tools they can use when they are gone from the home. Like Jephthah was a prophet so are we, as first teachers. We must give them the armor they will need to live in the world. And since no family is trouble/problem free we/I have experienced a child lost to dangerous things. I was/am Jephthah praying to God to about my child. I may not have prayed that I would make a burnt offering of whoever came through my door, but sending our child off to deal with the consequences surely felt as if my hubby and I were. What we got back was a child more aware of how to deal with the world. Our child came back a blessing. As for the family, we grew stronger.
As for the wedding feast and motherhood.
Many may look at our families and comment about our children. Let them. What they have to say is not based on any knowledge of us. They are the unworthy guests. Every family, ours included, is filled with the good and bad it is how we treat them that is the mark of a faith-filled family. The King sees a guest without the proper attire, what does he do: dresses him. Our children may sometimes be as unprepared as that guest. Finding themselves in situations they have never dealt with. Pressures they do not know how to handle. Like the daughter in the first reading and the guests killed, they can be just as lost.
It is our job to show them compassion. There will always be that one child, that one that is always into something, that needs more, that one child that if we were to look at them with the eyes of the world, we would never see clearly. That child is the daughter/the inappropriately clothed wedding guest. That child will be bewildered, confused, in need of our help. That child and all our children should be robed in the clothes of our Lord: Compassion. For without compassion, there can be no passion. Passion that deep love for our children is reflected in God’s grace and mercy for us. Without that we could not do what we are called to do. Compassion is what helps our children become more than they think they are, and that too is part of our calling.
Divine Wisdom, fill our hearts today so that we can robe our children as you robe us, with compassion.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner….” Landowner, landowner, how does that have anything to do with being a mom? If we look at our Baptismal roles: Priest – Nurturer, Prophet – First Teacher, Queen – Sovereign, Guide; we can see how landowner might fit.
We have children, who like the day labourers come to us at different times in our lives. they bring out of us different talents and attributes we thought we never had. Look at what happens to the day laborers, they each get what they need, but they grumble when they see the others getting exactly the same thing. But are they?
We provide for our children the things they basically need: food, shelter, love, protection. The things they personally need we give them as they need them. Just as God does with each of the day labourers. What may not look like justice to one sibling; a special needs child getting “more attention” may be just what is needed. Like Jesus, we must look after each person in our charge as they are, giving them exactly what is needed.
The more we are generous with our love, self, and calling the more we give.
Gentle Wisdom, Mother of God, be with us all today as we find ways to give to each of our “day labourers” what they need.
Jesus speaks very directly to the disciples about who will be able to enter the Kingdom of God, and the opening isn’t that big. This causes the disciples to exclaim: “Who then can be saved?”
Who then can? That is the question. Of course we all can. For all things are possible with God. As a mom that is great news. For we moms walk a very fine line, no matter what we do, it’s wrong. Or it can certainly seem that way.
What Jesus is saying to the disciples is true for us today. Don’t lose sight of the goal! Let GO! let go of the stuff that is holding you down, back, out of the Kingdom.
There is so much that we can become wrapped up in. Arguments about what makes a good wife, mother, woman. Life situations that can turn our worlds upside down in a matter of moments. We can stand there looking at Jesus just as Peter does and say, we have given up everything for you and NOW you say we can’t join? What more do you want?!
The simple answer: Trust.
Let Go, Let God. That was a plague on my dad’s desk. Let Go, Let God, what is the rich man not doing? He isn’t letting go that is for sure. We cling to the hurts of the past/misplaced belief/assumptions as if they were a bag of gold someone would steal. These bags of hurts of the past/misplaced belief/assumptions become our guide on how we see the day, how we deal with people. That bag of “gold” is weighing us down.
Letting go is like us looking at Jesus in the same way Peter did when he asked, “What will there be for us?” This thing we have is like our security blanket, familiar, there. Jesus looks like He is a million miles away, and besides He has more important stuff on His mind. Yeah, like us!
Let go, of control. It’s just an illusion that we have it anyway. Why not give it over to the Big Guy who is the one with the control in the first place.
Let go, of the idea that we are powerless. We are given dominion over our emotions, re/actions.
Let go, of the idea that God is forcing His life plan on us. God knows the plans He has for us, and they are in concert with our gifts, talents, and call.
Let go, of the idea that God does not hear or answer our prayers.
This Sunday the first reading was from Proverbs and spoke of Wisdom building her house. As moms, baptised to be Priest – Nurturer, Prophet – First Teacher and Queen – Guide, we must build our own house with Wisdom. But it is impossible for us to do it alone. We need the prayer of friends and family. We need the nutriment of the Eucharist: “To the one who lacks understanding, she says,
Come, eat of my food.” She tells us to: “Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” A calling for us to be compassionate, loving and nurturing when we run into a new mom, or a mom with a problem; we may be the wisdom they need!
I have known Mary Jo Thayer for some time. She was a Theology teacher at the Catholic high school our twin daughters attended. A few weeks back I went to the rally for Women Betrayed by Planned Parenthood and saw Mary Jo there. We did the usually catching up and then the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear: “Ask her if she would mind writing something for you.” So I asked her and she agreed. Her article on Family really seems to fit the first reading of this past Sunday.
Growing a Fourth Day Kind of Family: The Prayer
By Mary Jo Thayer, M.A.
While raising our children, I was daily provided with ample opportunities to live out my vocation as wife and mother. I learned to make my every task a prayer, or at least I attempted it. I read a helpful little book by called Holiness of Housewives and Other Working Women. This changed my life, or at least how I viewed my life. Every diaper change became a prayer: “Thank you, God, for giving me this little poopy bottom to change. Bless the women who cannot bear children.” Similar prayers were uttered in other tasks typically wrought with low appeal: cleaning up spilled juice from the carpet; digging slivers out of feet; refereeing sibling rivalry. You know, the fun stuff.
Another helpful book was The Five Love Languages. If you haven’t read it. Run, don’t walk to the nearest bookstore or library. This read was instrumental in raising my ability to love the family God was giving me and the personalities that went along with it. This book also taught me something about myself, as well, and I learned to redirect myself more positively.
One of the vices I had to overcome was my temper. I came by it rightly being raised in a highly emotional household. I carried that right into my marriage and my parenting. With the help of a good book on anger, the counsel of a really good priest, and numerous trips to the confessional, I was finally able to conquer my temper and be free to be the awesome mom God created me to be. Seeking outside help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and ultimately love. Love your husband and your children enough to go get help!
Now that our children are adults, my daily work is over. I have done the best job I knew how to do, and what’s done is done. I have apologized to each of my children for my failures, and they can see that I strive to love them the best that I can. They love me, too, which teaches me more about God’s mercy than I probably deserve.
I have forgiven myself, which is key. Mothers have a profound ability to blame themselves if they’re kids aren’t perfect. We tend to obsess if junior isn’t going to Mass every week, or if one of our kids have abandoned the faith. By and large, these things are not our fault. I have had to remind myself of that, and I also have to remind myself that kids in their 20’s and 30’s are probably not going to have the faith of a 55+ woman.
Therefore, I have turned them over to God, and I daily remind myself that my job now is to pray for them. My daily prayer is that they seek God’s will and use His gifts of intellect and free will to honor Him. I pray that they will desire the truth and learn to live it to the full, so that they can become all God created them to be. This was my fourth day prayer at the beginning of my parenthood, and it needs to be my fourth day prayer now.
|About the guest author: Mary Jo Thayer:
Mary Jo Thayer is an accomplished writer, public speaker, and published author on the topics of chastity, sex education, faith formation, parents as primary educators, and religious freedom. She began her public speaking career in 1999, spring-boarded by a personal experience. She has developed seminars and delivered talks to a wide range of Catholic and Christian audiences. She has had her work published on-line and in print.
Her article “Chastity 101” appeared in an early edition of FAITH magazine, as well as Couple to Couple League’s Family Foundations. She has several short essays published in various homeschooling periodicals and is a contributing author to several books pertaining to homeschooling, evangelization, and the role of Christian women in today’s society.
Prior moving to Grand Rapids, she taught the moral theology courses at Lansing Catholic High School, was a leader in women’s ministry, taught adult catechesis, and was often a keynote speaker for Catholic retreats and seminars.
Recently, she has been called upon to speak about the issues facing our nation with regard to religious freedom. All of her material integrates Saint Pope John Paul II’s The Theology of the Body. She and John, her husband of 34 years, currently live and work in Grand Rapids, where they are members of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, board members of Grand Rapids Right to Life, and Certified Promoters for the Couple to Couple League International. The Thayers have four adult children and one grandchild (so far).
MT 18:15-20 is today’s Gospel, and it has quite a bit to say. We hear Jesus explain to the disciples how to handle a dispute between you and someone you know. First you go off with this person privately and try and work it out. You can’t get satisfaction than you bring in people who know what is going on to try and resolve the situation. If that does not work, you go before the Church.
Many times this is the focus of homilies. Read just a few lines further and you have the bound and loose discourse. These two aspects are linked and should be linked.
The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.
Jesus is telling us that how we think of a difficult situation is going to guide our reaction, responses, and remedies. Think about difficult situations we have had that did not work out well; we are very likely going to find that our thoughts were very negative, and the results that were created were very negative.
Every day we are binding: declaring it forbidden, and loosing: allowing. Jesus is telling us to be very careful with these because if our action, which are always prayers, are done in the heat of emotion we may create something we do not want. Of course, that does not mean that through prayer, spiritual-emotional work, as Jesus describes in the earlier part of the Gospel, the situation can’t be turned around. Jesus is warning us that there is great power in what we do, how we think, how we act/react.
Here is a story from my life that illustrates the Gospel: I remember when Greg and I were first married I was so angry at something he had done I blurted out God damn you! Greg looked at me and asked why I would want God to damn him? Being made aware of what I had done, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother, I was very embarrassed at what I had done. I apologized. But still the damage was done. I had cursed my husband to enteral damnation. It wasn’t what I wanted to do; I was just angry. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Think back to times when you blurted something out in anger, (bound). Did it help or hurt? Now think about times when you carefully examined the situation and then chose your words well, (loosed). Which was better?
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
There is a great deal going on in the Gospel. The Disciples are trying to understand their role in Jesus’ mission. After all, they are with Jesus doesn’t that make them among the greatest?
No. Jesus makes it very clear that the dispossessed are the greatest in the Kingdom.
Jesus uses a child to illustrate his point. In Jesus’ time children had no rights. They were the property of their parents. Life was hard in Jesus’ time. Three of very ten children didn’t outlive childhood. That isn’t to say that parents didn’t love their children. Of course, they did! Parents often sought Jesus out to bless their children.
The importance of children to Jesus is great. It is through children that we can see faith in action.
From birth to three years a child’s greatest need is for security. God calls us to protect, love and nurture our children. It is through our acts as Priest – Nurturer, Prophet – First Teacher, and Queen – Protector/Guide that our children learn of God and the constancy of God’s love.
From three to seven they are experiencing faith as they have been shown and as they perceive it. They see God as a constant. Parents model a belief in God and show how faith is lived. God is the Great Man Who Lives In The Clouds and has a white beard.
Now from seven to 12 years faith becomes more relational. This stage of spiritual development corresponds with children’s emotional growth. The peers become important. The children still look to the parents, but now they may be seeing the cracks of human imperfection in their parents. This crisis may have the children questioning what they have experienced. They may leave the Church for a while, but as Jesus shows, patience with his beloved always pays off.
Think back on your experiences as a child. Do you remember what God was like when you were a small school aged child? How did God change as you became a teen? In college did you drift away for a while? What brought you back?
Reviewing our reactions can help us understand our children’s feelings and give us some insight into how to handle what they are feeling at any stage.