John 15:9-17 Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
Reflection On this Mothers’ Day Jesus implores us to “Love one another as (he) has loved us,” a command to love as a mother loves. We need mothers, not only to give us birth but also to give us value, to show us by the way they interact with us that we are a gift, a treasure. How else will be experience ourselves as a precious gift of God? And, not all of us had mothers who were capable of doing that.
Does that mean we are doomed to a life of self-loathing or endless psychotherapy? I do not think so because mothers are not the only people capable of mothering love. Which is to say, the mother who gives us birth may or may not be the one who gives us value. And that is where all the rest of us come in. Every one of us is needed by someone to give them a sense of being a treasure, a gift from God. Unless another human being treats us as a beloved treasure we will not experience the deepest truth of ourselves, that we are beloved. I believe this is why Jesus’ cardinal instruction to the disciples and us is, “Love as I have loved.” Everyone, without exception, needs to be unconditionally loved in order to know they truly are the beloved and every one of us needs to make the decision to love without expectation or motive.
A question before us today is not, “Who is my biological mother?” It is, “ Who is the person that showed me I am a treasure, a precious gift?” For me the answer is, Aunt Frances. My parents were of the belief, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” and that “Children should be seen and not heard.” By contrast, Aunt Frances was tender, kind, spent endless hours listening to me, telling me stories, taking me to special places and letting me know that I was a treasure, beloved. Of course this meant I grew up with competing voices in my head, voices that gave me migraine headaches until a wise psychologist suggested I choose whichever voice was more life giving and banish the other.
Everyone needs an Aunt Frances; someone who loves them the way Jesus loves, without judgment or agendas, which is why it is essential that every one of us decides to be an Aunt Frances and love the people around us with a selfless mother love, to let the people in our families and neighborhoods know they are valuable treasures, precious gifts of God, beloved.
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