A Mother's Heart

A teacher asked her class a question: "Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were five of you--your parents and three children. What part of the pie would you get?" Quickly a little boy shot up his hand to answer, and then confidently responded, "A fourth.

"I'm afraid you don't know your fractions," said the teacher. "Remember, there are five of you." "Yes, I realize that,” said the boy, "But you don't know my mother. My Mother would say she didn't want any pie so that everyone else could have more.”

How many of us have mothers like this? I know that I grew up with a mother who possessed such a spirit, and my children have a mother who is always ready to do the same!

If one phrase summarized many mothers, it would be “sacrificial love.” She is the one who is always ready to give of her time and her very self, and often she gives in quiet, humble ways. She is the one who will get up early and be the last one to sleep to make sure that everything is in order throughout the house. She is the one who gets up at all hours of the night to make sure her child, who isn’t feeling well, is taking his medicine and simply feeling the loving presence of his mother. She may be a stay at home mom who works more than someone with a profession, or she may be a working mom, who works her 40 hours a week only to come home and then continue her second job which is even more demanding. Moms are people who constantly give of themselves, often without thinking of themselves.

Moms are often the bedrock of faith in the families. They are often the ones who instill the Christian faith in their children, reading them Bible stories, teaching them the traditions of our faith, taking them to Church, and modeling for them the Christian life. I guess this is why there is a Spanish proverb which says, “An ounce of a mother is worth a ton of priest.” Of course, this proverb doesn’t downplay the central role of a priest, but highlights the daily and continual influence that a Christian mother can have!

In many ways, moms reflect the epitome of a Christian spirit and ideal which we all should strive for in our lives – lives of unconditional love, of sacrificial service, and of bedrock faith

Maybe no influence on earth can impact a child in the same way! The writer Emerson once said 'People are what their mothers make them.' Abraham Lincoln confessed, “I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother." Someone once said, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I can shape the world!”

How true to acknowledge the blessing that mothers can have upon their children. The mother-infant bond is an intense relationship of unparalleled human affection – the foundation of a child's emotional, spiritual and physical survival.

St. Paul saw the influence of a mother on his disciple St. Timothy, when he writes, “Timothy, I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” Here, one of the early apostles followed the footsteps of his grandmother and mother in their journey towards the Kingdom of God.

Many saints throughout the centuries attributed their initial thirst for God and foundation of faith to their mothers. One of the most famous examples in Church history was possibly the family of St. Basil the Great, whose grandmother was St. Macrina the Elder, who mother was St. Emmelia, and from these godly mothers came St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Macrina the Younger.

These women exemplified lives of faithfulness, selflessness, tenderheartedness, compassion, love, patience, motherly concern reached far beyond their own children. Obviously, Christian motherhood never limits her selfless, sacrificial love to only her own children. The blessings and spirit of motherhood come from God Himself, and must go far beyond one’s own. God’s love knows no bounds, as the love of a true mother know no limits.

I summarize the spirit of Christian motherhood into three central virtues: unconditional love, unconquerable hope, and undying faith! How many of our own mothers instilled these gifts of faith, hope, and love within us? No matter what children do, or how far they stray from the straight and narrow path, the mother will continue to love them, never lose hope in them, and always place their faith in them. How many of our mothers realize that this is the greatest legacy you can leave your children – faith, hope and love.

Blessed motherhood is not about spoiling a child, or giving in to their every whim. A Christian mother is one who discerns a child’s needs from his/her wants, who distinguishes the necessary from the superfluous, who separates that which will build up character, from that which will destroy the soul. The dream of a mother is always to help her child reach his/her potential in God. In other words, the mother prays daily that the likeness of God will spring forth from within the soul of her child.

Let me conclude with another children’s story. One day, a little boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation. His mother was in the front row trying to prompt him with the right words. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son's memory was blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, "I am the light of the world." The child seemed to suddenly remember his lines, and with great feeling and a loud clear voice said, "My mother is the light of the world."

On this Mother’s Day, let us lift up and honor all our mothers who have been a “light” in our lives!

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