“Your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew
It was the late 1950’s and my mother must have been a basket case much of the time. My father worked extremely long hours on our farm so most of the responsibility for raising six bright, headstrong, quarrelsome children fell to her plus running the house, gardening, canning, sewing most of our clothes, etc.
But one of my strongest childhood memories is of the month that Mother, a trained teacher, taught first grade (for free) after the regular teacher broke her arm. She was deeply troubled when she discovered how many kids struggled with reading. Our small town Catholic school had no reading specialists or even teacher aides and each nun taught two grades.
Mother started a volunteer remedial reading class that met two or three times a week. I’m sure she had a significant impact on her students but her work made an even greater impact on her most important “students,” the six monsters she was raising. We absorbed the message that when we saw a need, we had a duty to meet it. Mother was very much the “light” that shined before others even if only a few outside our family knew it.
Fast forward 50 years and all six of us reflect the lamp that Mother lighted and stood on a lampstand, just as Jesus commands in today’s reading. We’ve been almost compulsive volunteers and many of us chose service occupations because of Mother’s impact (and my Dad’s too).
I dedicate this reflection to parents, teachers, youth volunteers and others who labor without fanfare or recognition to set such an example for the next generation. I’m especially moved to do so because after my last reflection, I received a touching note from a mom apologizing that she had no time to engage in any outside ministry because she is so busy with her family and working outside the home.
My dear “Mom,” you are performing the most important ministry there is and lighting lamps that will “shine before others” in ways you cannot imagine. Just ask my Mom! And keep up the great work. God knows that you are “giving light to all in the house.”