Did you hear that the police in Paris haven’t a clue as to what started the fire at Notre Dame? Not a clue. However, the bell ringer has a hunch!
I’d like to begin my homily with my favorite Mother’s Day story, which you may have heard me use in the past. It’s about a mother who took her little daughter shopping. At one point, the child stopped to read a cereal box, while the mother continued into another aisle. Suddenly the little girl realized that she lost her mother.
In fright, she called out, “Betty, Betty”. The mother instantly recognized her daughter’s voice and went running to get to her. When she found her, she hugged and kissed the tearful little girl. Then the mother asked, “How come you called me ‘Betty’? You never use my name. Why didn’t you just call out, ‘Mommy?’”
And the little child wisely answered, “I didn’t want to get the wrong one!” …Yes, our mothers are special, and today we honor them all.
If I may, I’d like to indulge in a little fantasy trip tonight. If I were president of the United States… If I were president, the first thing I would do is gather around me a Cabinet of Secretaries. And they would all be mothers.
First, there would be a Secretary of Food. My Polish grandmother spoke only one English word to me, and she would use often when I visited her. “Eat, eat,” she would tell me. I was a skinny kid and my grandmother, running a farm, knew the importance of good food and nourishment. We need someone with her caring heart to work on feeding the starving people all over the earth. She wouldn’t rest until every man, woman and child got fed every day.
And I think I would have a Secretary of the Environment. Mother’s are always telling us to “pick up after yourself,” “don’t waste your food,” and “pet the dog gently.” I think a mother would be able to lead us in conserving our resources, in not plundering our countryside, and in taking care of the earth that is our home.
Another Secretary would be a Secretary of Health. Mothers are experts at healing bumps and bruises. They know how important it is to care for the body. I think we need a person like that to work for everyone’s right to appropriate health care, health care with compassion, health care that respects human life from the womb to natural death.
Next would come a Secretary in charge of Material Goods. Mothers teach us to share our toys, to let the other kids have a ride on our bike, to be generous. A mother seems to know instinctively that material goods are not to be desperately clung to, but shared for the good of all. She knows that people are more important than things.
There would have to be a Secretary of Peace. Mothers are good at breaking up backyard frights, telling their children and their friends to “play nice”. Mothers teach us that problems are best solved by using our heads and not our fists. A clenched fist is not a sign of strength, but of stupidity. I think a mother could best convince nations to sit down and talk out their problems rather than throw bombs at each other.
I would have a Secretary of Sex. Who knows better than a mother that a child is the product of love between husband and wife? She knows first hand that God intended sex not for public entertainment or advertisements. Sex was designed as a sacred way for husband and wife, permanently committed to each other, to express their love and grow in love. Long before woman’s lib, mothers knew that pornography is an exploitation of women. We need a Secretary like this for the example of maturity she would give us.
Then I would have a Secretary of Truth. Mothers teach us early that honesty is the best policy. Somehow they always know if we are lying. They will let us off easy if we level with them. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no need to take an oath in court, no need for a notary public? A person’s word was all you needed.
I would include a Secretary of the Tongue! And I would have her start to work right away on movies and TV. Mothers have deep feelings, and they know that true emotions -- and humor! -- can be expressed in better ways than with foul words.
Finally, I would have a Secretary of Celebration. Who knows better than mother how to throw a party? Birthdays, Thanksgiving, picnics, parish potlucks – mother puts together all the ingredients that help everyone have a good time. Our world needs someone like this to bring out the smiles and get everyone singing together again.
What does all this have to do with today’s readings? In today’s gospel, Jesus identifies himself as a good shepherd. A good shepherd knows and loves his sheep. That leads me to ask the question: Who should be appointed to a president’s cabinet, or elected to public office? What qualifications should we look for? We usually look for someone who is intelligent, experienced, and politically efficient?
Maybe the first question we should ask is: Which candidate loves the people the most? Which candidate has compassion for the poor, hungers for justice, respects human life, and speaks the truth? This is the love Jesus is talking about and this is the love that he showed.
My example about Secretaries focused on mothers. But any male candidate who was raised by a loving mother and has learned her spirit could fill those cabinet offices too. The bottom line is not male or female but who loves the people the most.
Food, environment, health, material goods, peace, sex, truth, tongue, celebration….
Early in his ministry, Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. At the Last Supper, he raised the bar. “Love one anther, as I have loved you”(John 13:34). How does Jesus love? Unconditionally, totally, and forever, not counting the cost. That’s how my mother loved. I trust yours, too.
This weekend we praise and thank our mothers. And we praise and thank our God for creating them and loving us through them. They are the instruments of God.
Come, let us worship and give thanks to the God of love.