Daily Reflection
May 14th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8-12
Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

Today, here in the United States, we are celebrating Mother's Day.  The readings for this forth Sunday of Easter allow for some graceful reflections upon Jesus' being so similar to a loving mother.

Peter and John have cured a cripple in the name of Jesus.  Peter speaks to the Jewish leaders in defense of a good act.  The cripple has been healed and becomes the focus of how Jesus has come to heal and save the whole of humankind.  Though He was rejected, He is now the foundation for our stability.

The Second Reading speaks much of the motherly love that God has for us.  We are so loved by God that we are known as God's children.  As children reflect the influences of their parents, so we reflect the goodness of the loving God.

In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus speak of Himself as the "Good Shepherd" that lays down His life for the sheep.  He stays faithful throughout all dangers and will gather all into one flock. 

The qualities of Jesus during His life and his last days and then after the Resurrection are so similar to those of the Christian mother.  As I write, I am reflecting upon how my own mother did such Jesus-like actions for our family and which are spoken of in today's readings.

I do not wish to stereotype women or wives or mothers, so I reflect simply, how one mother laid down her life for her family.  My mother laid down the law, laid down her own selfishness and laid down each night next to my father after a day of keeping us one flock.

There is a common phrase about keeping the wolf from the door.  Jesus presents Himself, not as a hireling who runs away at the sight of a menacing wolf.  My mother kept all kinds of wolves away from our home; she walked my father through alcoholic-recovery, loved our family through the death of our baby sister, and nursed and nourished six, (seven counting my father) children through hospitals, schools and heart-aches.  No wolf was going to scatter the early Christian community, because Jesus was its life's-source.  No wolves were to scatter my mother's family for the same reason.

Mothers have voices, which reflect differing tones and shades of love.  She desired deeply to teach us, warn us, guide us and above all allowed us to go growingly.  The voice of Jesus can so easily be interpreted as only the voice of a distant professor Who knows all and demands perfect reception.  Jesus' voice is known by His own, as sheep know the voice of their shepherd.  What ever shaded my mother's words, we all felt the love and care behind them.  Not that we always followed her voiced-desires, but when we strayed, her voice went with us and was there to speak to our return.

The voice of this "resurrected-Shepherd" floats gently in our hearts and urges us only to be "children of God, Yet that is what we are."  As mothers want their daughters and sons to know and receive their love, Jesus invites His followers to know who they are and act accordingly and graciously.

What Jesus says of His laying down of His life, I hear now my own mother echoing the same theme, "No one takes it from me; I lay it down freely."  Jesus and my mother, and perhaps your own, and perhaps some of you as mothers, have in the past, and do now, often, lay it down and pick it up as a powerful reminder to a world that has failed to recognize Jesus.  At least our family got a chance to see one in Janet, Mom.

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