On Sunday, we celebrate both Mothers’ Day and the First Communion for five of our parishioners; it is thus a good opportunity to reflect upon the unity between these sacred occasions.
As Sister Briege McKenna, an Irish mystic, pointed out, there is a complementarity between Mary and priests as spiritual Mother and spiritual fathers. Mary, on behalf of all women, brought Christ into the world in the Incarnation; and priests continue, on behalf of all men, bringing Christ into the world in the Eucharist. Thus, Mary represents the maternal aspect of the Church, which religious sisters carry on to this day. And priests bring forth a visible manifestation of God the Father.
This complementarity in the family of God that is the Church should be reflected in all families. Wives and mothers are meant to bring the maternal, caring, motherly aspect of the Church to their families. And husbands and fathers are meant to bring the passionate, self-sacrificing love of Christ to their families.
Grandparents, uncles and aunts can be seen as like the prophetic witnesses of the Old Testament, or like Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon and Anna in the Gospel of Luke; they bring the wisdom of the ages to their families. Children should respect and honor their parents and grandparents, as we respect Christ, His Church, and the prophetic witnesses of Scriptures and history; but they should also be respected as the future hope of their families and of the Church.
There is also a connection between families and the teaching, governing and sanctifying roles of the Church. As parents should both be clear in their teaching and guiding of children, but also be forgiving and understanding, so the Church both gives clear teaching and guidance, but also understanding and forgiveness. And, as parents both unify the family, but also recognize that each child has his own gifts, so the Church sets down clear standards that unite the world, but also respects the diversity of the types of people and cultures.
It is a struggle to maintain this unity and diversity in a family and in the Church; but the grace of God guides us in this sacred effort. And, as a mother gives and sustains life, the Church also gives and sustains supernatural life, especially in the sacraments. When people object that Jesus giving us His body, His life in the Eucharist is incomprehensible, we can respond that when a mother bears children in the womb and feeds infants after birth she is naturally doing what Christ does in the Eucharist.
Through sharing her body, she gives life to her children so that they may grow and continue that life into the world. Thus, Christ, our brother and Savior and His bride the Church, who is our mother and teacher, makes us the family of God on earth and one day in life everlasting