December 30, 2008

Why Do Mothers Cry?

New Year's Day
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Luke 2: 16-21: “Mary treasured all these things and reflected them in her heart.”

A little boy asked his mother, "Why are you crying?" She told him, "Because I'm a mother." "I don't understand" he said. His mom just hugged him and said, "And you will never understand it." The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why mother cry. Finally he made a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, "God, why do mother cry so easily?" God said, "When I made mothers I made them very special. I made their shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort. I gave them inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from their children. I gave them a courage that allows them to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of their families through sickness and fatigue without complaining. I gave them the sensitivity to love their children under any and all circumstances, even when their children have hurt them deeply. And finally, I gave them tears to shed. This is theirs exclusively to use whenever it is needed" "You see my son," said God, "The beauty of your mother is not in the clothes she wears, or the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of your mother must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart … the place where love resides."

Today is New Year’s Day and yet in the liturgical calendar, we are also celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. What’s the relevance of Mary as we begin our new year? It dawned on me that in our Filipino tradition, we don’t leave our home without saying goodbye to our parents especially to our mother. We need their blessings and assurance. In my own case, my nanay will never let me go without giving me a bear hug every time I return to New Bilibid Prison or in Zamboanga. It was not just an ordinary hug but an assurance of her support, concern and love as I leave home. I can feel that it pains her every time I say goodbye especially now that she’s all alone in our home; but she knows that I need to go. Why do my nanay cry? I know she wants me to stay home but keeping me will betray her motherhood … letting go her children and allowing us, her children, to find our own destiny.

In our gospel for today, I am sure that Mary had a mother’s instinct that her son is not an ordinary child. From that moment when her seemingly well-planned family life with Joseph was spoiled by the angel’s announcement that she will be the Mother of the God up to this moment where the shepherds “made known the message that had been told them about this child Jesus,” Mary cannot help but be amazed in great awe! The fullness of God’s presence in that inconspicuous “heaven” in a manger was both unbelievable and overwhelming. In this undoubtedly incomprehensible moment where logic and human understanding fail, there is only one thing to do … TO LISTEN. Mary did and kept everything in her heart and reflected them in her heart.

I am sure that Mary had a hunch - her newly born child will give her deep joy but also deep pain and sorrow. I am sure Mary cried every time her son was not in her sight.

Some people say that crying is a sign of weakness. But for those who have experienced letting go (dreams, expectations, and life itself) for righteousness and justice sake, shedding tears is a sign of courage. The battle within us to painfully surrender our own will to the will of God is not easy. It is painful… and tears have to flow. To believe in God is to deny ourselves for the sake of higher values. To believe in God is to continue to feel that inner struggle of “Shall I trust God or myself?” Miguel de Unamuno even said, “Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.”

Mary felt it. Mary knows her little baby she’s gazing will give her pain as Simeon prophesized, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” But as a mother, she cannot betray the fullness of her motherhood – to let go of her Jesus, allow him to grow, and find his own destiny (dying on the cross to save us) - even if it will make her cry.

As we enter another year, in the midst of global economic meltdown, increasing poverty, unending arm struggle in Mindanao, family breakdown and personal struggles and uncertainties, we cannot help but seek for some signs of hope in the midst of darkness. We need a shining star to guide us and Mary is the one. She is the Morning Star. Today, we come to her for two reasons: First, we ask for her motherly intercession for guidance and protection for the year. Second, we need an inspiration to face the uncertainties and anxieties of the Year 2009. Like us, Mary’s life was full of contradictions, uncertainties, and doubt, yet she showed us how trust God. We hope that her life will inspire us to follow the same path of leaving our lives in God’s hands. It is consoling to trust our future to someone who holds the future.

In the midst of anxieties and uncertainties in this New Year, there is only one thing to do. Let’s learn from Mary.

Let’s LEARN to STOP and

LISTEN to what the events in our life are telling us,
LISTEN to what people around us are telling us, and most of all,
LISTEN to what God wants us to do.

LISTEN, keep everything in your HEART and REFLECT!

And one day, you will suddenly understand Mary, why do mothers cry, and why you should trust God.

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
St. Joseph Chapel,
South Greenheights Village, Muntinlupa

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