6th Sunday of Easter – May 9, 2021
Mother’s Day Adoption Mass

When my father was two years old – 95 years ago – and his mother was pregnant with his younger brother, she contracted tuberculosis.  With medical care not being what it is today, the combination of these two factors – a pregnancy and a severe pulmonary disease – prompted my grandmother’s physicians to give her a choice:  terminate the pregnancy and live – or – carry your baby to full term and risk dying in the process.

For my grandmother, whom I never knew, there was no choice.  Because of her faith and her deep love for the child that she was carrying in her womb, she was willing to risk giving up her own life in order to give life to another.  And she did.  A few weeks after giving birth to my uncle in 1926, my grandmother died.    …  A foolish thing to do?  …  A reckless act?  …  Some would say yes.  But authentic love so often defies logic and common sense, doesn’t it?  The cross of Jesus and the depth of his love remind us of that fact.

Today’s passage from the 15th chapter of Saint John’s gospel is a part of a long discourse in which Jesus, anticipating his passion and death, provides direction for his disciples as he prepares to leave them.  …  “Love one another.”  …  Notice that Jesus doesn’t offer these words as a suggestion but as a command.  “Love one another.”  There are no qualifications, conditions or limitations.  He calls his disciples – and us – to love without exception, even the mean-spirited, the ungrateful, the unreasonable.  Simply put, in the only commandment expressly stated by Jesus in Saint John’s gospel, Jesus commands us to love as he has loved us:  to bring healing and peace into every life that we encounter.

Simply put, this is the commandment that Jesus entrusts to us who are called to be his Church.  And as a Church, we have hope for our broken world because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the risen Jesus.

Today, throughout our country and in this assembly, we celebrate and give thanks for that love of God that has been shared with us through the women we honor this day:  our mothers.  …  Mothers, who have given us life – mothers, who, though unable to care for the lives they bore, for love of God and life itself, entrusted those precious gifts to the care of others – mothers who opened their hearts to children desperately in need of a loving and nurturing home – grandmothers – foster mothers – and all who have nurtured and cared for life as only a mother can do.

It is a common truth that we learn how to love from being loved and from seeing love in action.  It’s as simple and profound as that.  That’s why it’s so important for us to recognize that underneath all of the commercialism that can easily attach to this day, there lies a far deeper reality:  we honor mothers because our first encounter with love comes from our mother.  That love is hardly a sentimental love – but rather, a sacred love – a selfless, sacrificial, forgiving love that mirrors the very love of Jesus himself.

With so many mothers who have sacrificed greatly – like my own grandmother – and particularly in those mothers who have said yes to life and then have chosen to give their child the opportunity to grow and flourish in another family through adoption, we see a love comparable to that found in the very heart of Jesus himself – loving for the pure sake of another, selflessly and sacrificially.

In God’s saving plan, his love is conveyed to us in many ways: in the Sacraments of the Church – in his Word proclaimed – and through one another, the faithful people in whom God lives.  …  If you are still uncertain about this truth of our faith, however, I’d ask you to think of the most profound experience that you have ever had of God’s presence and love in your life.  I guarantee that somewhere in that experience, you will discover another person.  This mystery of God’s presence in our lives puts into perspective the great commandment that Jesus shared in today’s gospel, “Love one another as I love you.”

We give thanks today, then, for the blessing of those who have worked to protect, support, sustain and love God’s gift of life – a blessing that has been so generously given to each of us through the lives of our mothers.

And during our worship today, we especially give thanks for the courageous women who chose to preserve the lives of their children and placed them in the hands of those equally courageous women and men who accepted them as their own.  …  By their example, they teach us that it is possible to love as Jesus commands – generously and selflessly.  …  They also remind us that each of us is given the power to become vehicles for God’s very presence in the world when we open our lives to his love, when we make it our own, and when we give it away.