Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in Italy.
Pope Francis visited the Marian Basilica of Saint Mary Major’s for the rosary, and afterwards he gave a beautiful reflection on Mary and Mothers and how they help us to do three things: grow, face life and be free. It’s worth the read! Here’s the central part:
“A mother helps her children to grow and wants them to grow well; for this she educates them not to fall into laziness – which derives from a certain well-being – not to settle into a comfortable life that contents itself only with having things. The mother cares for the children so that they grow more, they grow strong, able to take responsibility, to commit themselves in life, to pursue grand ideals. In the Gospel St. Luke tells us that, in the family of Nazareth, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Our Lady does the same thing in us, she helps us to grow as human beings and in the faith, to be strong and not to give in to the temptation to be human and Christian in a superficial way, but to live with responsibility, to aim ever higher.
A mother also thinks of her children’s health when she educates them to face the problem of life. She does not educate them, she does not care for their health by allowing them to avoid problems, as life were a highway without obstacles. The mother helps her children to look upon life’s problems with realism and to not get lost in them, but to face them with courage, not to be weak, and to know how to overcome them with a sane balance that a mother “senses” between areas of safety and those of risk. And a mother knows how to do this! She does not always let her child take the easy, safe way because in this way the child cannot grow, but neither does she leave the child on the road of risk since it is dangerous. A mother knows how to balance things. A life without challenges does not exist, and a boy or girl who does not know how to deal with them is a boy or girl without a spine! Let us recall the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus does not recommend the conduct of the priest or the Levite, who avoid helping the man who ran into robbers. He points to the Samaritan, who saw the man’s situation and deals with it in a concrete way and takes risks. Mary experienced many difficult moments in her life, from the birth of Jesus when there was “no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7), to Calvary (cf. 19:25). And like a good mother she is close to us so that we never lose courage in facing the adversity of life, in facing our weakness, our sins: she gives us strength, she indicates the path of her Son. From the cross Jesus says to Mary, referring to John: “Woman behold your son!” (Cf. John 19:26-27). That disciple represents all of us: the Lord entrusts us to the Mother’s hands, full of love and tenderness, so that we feel her support in dealing with and overcoming the problems along our human and Christian journey. Do not be afraid of difficulties, face them with the help of the mother.
A final aspect: a good mother does not only accompany her children as they grow, not avoiding the problems, the challenges of life; a good mother also helps us to make definitive decisions freely. This is not easy but a mother knows how to do it. But what is freedom? It is certainly not doing whatever you want, letting yourself be dominated by your passions, passing from one experience to the next without discernment, following the fashions of the time; freedom does not mean, so to speak, throwing everything you do not like out the window. No, that is not freedom! Freedom is given to us so that we know how to make good choices in life! Mary, like a good mother, teaches us to be, like her, capable of making definitive decisions, definitive decisions in this moment in which their reigns, so to say, the philosophy of the provisional. It is so difficult to commit oneself definitively in life. And she helps us to make definitive decisions with that complete freedom with which she answered “yes” to God’s plan for her life (cf. Luke 1:38).
Dear brothers and sisters, how hard it is in our time to make definitive decisions. The provisional seduces us. We are the victims of a tendency that drives us toward the temporary… as if we wished to remain adolescents. It is rather fashionable now to remain an adolescent, and to stay this way all one’s life! Let us not be afraid of definitive commitments, of commitments that involve and interest our whole life! In this way life will be fruitful! And this is freedom: to have the courage to make these decisions with greatness.”
A Happy Italian Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!
God bless you,