On Mothers’ Day, 2013

This Sunday, the Church recalls the Ascension. Monday, the Nation goes to the polls. Despite all the media focus on the latter, we still celebrate Mothers’ Day.

The celebration of the Ascension is a celebration of triumph: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy,” the Responsorial Psalm proclaims, “a blare of trumpets for the Lord!” Having accomplished his mission on earth, Jesus returns to the glory of heaven. He “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality to God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness; and being found in human form, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross…” he returns now “ascended” “exalted” to the rewarding embrace of his Father: “Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knew should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil: 2:6-11). The glory of the Ascension is enveloped in the mystery of the Father’s love for us, his refusal to disavow this love despite our sin, his sending of his Son to manifest this love, a love that freely embraced his “necessary” suffering, death and resurrection. “O necessary sin of Adam… O happy fault” we cry at Easter, “that earned so great and glorious a Redeemer!” (Exultet). It is in this context of Jesus’ “mission accomplished,” that the Ascension is celebrated. It is the guarantee of our redemption, as it is the ultimate promise of our future in oneness with Jesus in heaven.

It is in this context that Jesus gives us his Ascension Day command: “Go into the whole world, and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned…” (Mk 16:15). Life is not just the drudgery or suffering of today. This is a message those who struggle to remain honest while making ends meet often forget, a message which those who suffer in sickness and old age must always remember: There is a tomorrow in Jesus’ triumph.

What is triumph for Jesus, is hope for us and challenge. What is heaven for Jesus now, is heaven for us, but not yet. Through the Spirit we continue to labor on earth at the side of “the Resurrected Jesus still Carrying his Cross” for the realization of his Kingdom. We continue to take responsibility for our Earthly City – even though we realize its ultimate fulfillment is only in heaven. This is why, in the care for our Earthly City, we care for the structures which allow us to live together in the peace, harmony and dignity of the children of God, even if imperfectly. In the Philippines, insofar as we can discern, our democracy mediates the actual human society that we can realize at this point in history, and it is through free elections that we choose the women and men whom we believe will govern us in pursuit of the common good. That is the common good of a plural society, where many, fortunately, think differently from us, and many, unfortunately, are still selfish and sinful. When we vote, therefore, we do not vote just to advance our private interests, though this is certainly possible. We vote to advance a common, shared, humane society. We vote, and, as circumstances require, we act, often at great price, to ensure that the mechanisms of our free democracy are not undermined by evil.

But today is also Mother’s Day. It is indeed only fitting that there is one day in the year that we set aside to remember our mothers, and give thanks. Our Catholic Church is referred to as “Mother Church,” and the particular bias of our culture refers to our nation not in terms of the Latin “patria” for fatherland, but in terms of mother. Recall the beautiful statue in the Luneta dedicated to “La Madre Filipina”! But in our homes, as in our hearts, “mother” is she who bore us in her womb, who endured for us the pains of childbirth, who fed us from her breasts, who saw to it we were properly and cleanly clothed, who cooked our favorite foods, who encouraged us at our studies, who was always sensitive to our problems, and who in times of crisis listened to our pain from her heart. It was she who plotted and schemed for our birthday surprises, and she who made our Christmases so special. Today, through a Mass, through a whispered prayer of gratitude, through an exquisite waling-waling, a singular rose, or special spray of sampaguita, our message to our mothers is heartfelt: Thank you. We love you. We owe so much to you!

As we pray for La Madre Filipina and resolve to vote on Monday to honor and strengthen her, we remember our mothers in gratitude, and look forward to the day when in Heaven we come face to face with the Heavenly Mother who despite our shortcoming and sins never forgot us, never turned her back on us. In this context, the words of Fr. Manoling’s masterpiece based on Is. 49 15 are most moving:

Malilimutan ba ng ina
ang anak na galing sa kanya?
Sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan
paano n’yang matatalikdan?
Ngunit kahit na malimutan ng ina
ang anak n’yang tangan

Hindi kita malilimutan
Kailan ma’y hindi pababayaan
Hindi kita malilimutan
Kailan ma’y hindi pababayaan

Can a mother ever forget
her nursing child
or show no compassion for the
child of her womb?
Even if these should forget,
I will never forget you.
I will never forget you.

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
This entry was posted in Homily and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Mothers’ Day, 2013

  1. CatholicsForFreedom says:

    Fr. Joel, we must start an online petition of Catholics in support of Kermit Gosnell, who is being unfairly persecuted by narrow-minded Catholics. I’m sure that you and Gosnell are of the same spirit and mind.

  2. vangie says:

    Fr. Tabora, please take courage and speak out in defense of Kermit Gosnell! We Know that your spirit is like his!

    Catholics For Full Choice

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