“Holy Mother Church is a home for one and all. She desires to belong to everyone and in particular she is the Church of the poor, like the village fountain.”
St. John XXIII
I have been blessed with a great mom. Anita was always the loudest voice cheering from the bleachers and sometimes even illegally on the field. She doubled as a short-order cook when four very different children had four very different schedules. She cries because you cry. She tells you what you didn’t want to hear but knows you should hear. She continues to be a rock in the hardest times and the biggest softy when it comes to any requests from her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, even her grown brothers. Yes, I am blessed to have Anita as my mom. During Mass yesterday, Fr. Mark focused his Mother’s Day homily on the blessing of Holy Mother Church. It was probably the first time in my 39 years that I can remember a Mother’s Day homily going in that direction, but I found it intriguing enough to ignore my children’s behavior. After Mass, I drove to my mom’s house to bring her some flowers. I thought about last year’s Mother’s Day and how hard it was to be separated from my mom and not be able to give her a hug. I thought about how no matter how many Zooms we did, they just weren’t sufficient. I remembered how significant that first hug was after so many weeks of standing at a distance.
Suddenly, I was drawn back to Fr. Mark’s homily. I spend a lot of hours every week trying to help the Church as institution. But how often do I love her as my mother? It’s really hard to have a relationship with an institution. No matter how much you believe in its mission, you can only connect with an organization so much. Conversely, it’s almost impossible not to have some relationship with your mother, even if it’s a challenging one. This pandemic has separated many of us from the Church’s physical embrace, but never from her love, never from her desire "to have the Lord’s joy in us and to have that joy be complete." Whether in how she provides for us, how she may challenge us, how we may even feel she pesters us at times, can we understand the Church’s role in the same way as we’ve come to understand the role our earthly mother has played? I played it cool a year ago. I pretended that it meant so much more to Anita to have that first pandemic hug than it meant to me. The truth is, I need her just as much as she needs me. Will I admit the same is true with my Mother the Church? Blessings for all the mothers in our lives, especially Holy Mother Church!