Today is Mother’s Day. At our church, we celebrate it as Parents Day. The first word that comes to my mind when I think about mothers or parents is LOVE. We all received tremendous love from them. We thank them for their love, their sacrifice, and their many tears for us. They took care of us. They prayed for us and they always worried about us. They taught us what it means to suffer because they love. I saw my mother suffer more when I was suffering. So whenever we think about our parents, it makes us emotional. Because our parents did so much for us.
During this Covid period, we heard many sad stories. So many seniors died at nursing homes during this Covid period. Some of them died alone without being able to say a proper goodbye. People could not even visit their parents in a nursing home and spend time with them. They had to meet their parents in the nursing home from outside of their room. Not being able to take care of lonely parents is painful because all their lives they did so much for us.
Our parents are not perfect. They may not have social status or hold an important position in our society. Especially in an immigrant society, our parents suffered quite a lot. The immigrant life was not easy but they were willing to suffer for the sake of their children. They felt bad because they could not provide what normal parents would do for their children. Instead of helping their children, they had to depend on the help of their children because they couldn’t speak English. But how influential they are, how helpful they are, how capable they are – that’s not that important. They taught us love, the most important thing in life.
What is More Important Than Love?
Isn’t that what is the most important in life? What is more important than love? We have become who we are by love we received. Didn’t St. Paul say that I am who I am by God’s grace, by God’s love? Without love, we will be lost. Without love, life will be miserable. Having love is more important than any social skills we may acquire. Being able to love and being loved. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us? Jesus told the scribes – ALL WE NEED IS LOVE. Jesus said it before the Beatles sang. All the commandments are summarized into one: LOVE – LOVE God and LOVE your neighbour.
That summarizes our Scripture today. The last verse we read today summarizes our passage.
I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:17)
Love is powerful. With love, we can deal with challenges of life. With love, we can persevere through our difficult times. Love makes life worth living. It makes our life full and abundant. Love makes our relationships joyful and fruitful.
We are successful if we are full of love. We are successful not because we are doing well in our lives. We are successful because we are able to love. Those who love – They are the ones who live their life to the fullest.
Who taught us that love? Our parents. From the moment we came out into this world, they were there. When we were helpless, they made sure that we received that love. They stayed up all night to take care of us. They changed diapers and they made sure that we would survive. And we learn from them how important it is to love. Our parents taught us the most important thing that we need, to survive and flourish in our life.
What was our parents’ love like? They made us feel so special, so precious, and so valuable. That is what love is. When you love somebody, you treat that person as the most precious being in the world. When you are loved, you feel valued, appreciated, and important. That was what parents did to us. We are always special and precious to our parents. You know, feeling valued is very important for our survival. That is a very basic thing that all human beings need for their survival.
Dr. Joseph Shrand, a Psychiatrist at Harvard talked about why being valued is so important. He said, millions of years ago, we human beings were very weak alone. We were physically inferior to other mammals. We could have easily eaten up by other animals who were faster, stronger, and bigger. And then we formed small groups and we got stronger together. But to stay in the group, we have to contribute something. In other words, we have to have value. Otherwise we will be kicked out and become alone and we will be prey to other animals. So, a sense of being valued has become so important. Being valued is our survival. And our parents gave that to us. Through our parents’ love, we have learned to value ourselves.
I want to tell you, all young parents. Make your children feel valuable. That is the best you can do for them. That is the best parenting you can give to them. Especially when they go through troubled times and hard times, let them know how valuable they are. They need to know that. That doesn’t mean that you let them be whatever they want. You can discipline them, you can say difficult things to them too. But never make them feel devalued. Never let them feel that they are not important, that they are unwanted. Don’t ever make them feel they are worthless. Valuing somebody – that’s what love is. Love always makes us feel that we are important.
Jesus’ Definition of Love
Jesus said today.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Laying down one’s life for someone – no one has greater love than this. That’s Jesus’ definition of love. By laying down one’s life for someone, you show how valuable they are. We are saying you are important enough for me to sacrifice my life. That is what true love is. That is the love of God. That is love Jesus showed to the world. That is the kind of love Jesus showed on the cross. When we say that Jesus died for me, we are saying that I am that valuable. We don’t see this kind of love often. But we experience that from our parents. They are willing to sacrifice anything for their children. Because we are that much valuable to them.
Even evil parents do that for their children, Jesus said. When Jesus taught us about prayer, he gave this parable.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
To even evil parents, their children are precious and know how to give good gifts. That is what parents do. Jesus knew about parents very well. That’s why he used this example. Parents’ love is closest to God’s love. Parents’ love is in between human love and God’s love.
When you look at 10 commandments, there are two categories. From 1-4, they describe our love for God. And from 6-10, they describe our love for neighbours. As Jesus said, it is to love our God and love our neighbors. But at 5th commandment, right in the middle, it has our love for parents. Parents’ love is a medium through which we understand God’s love.
We learn about God’s love through parents. It’s hard to know God’s love. Because it is invisible. But through parents’ love, we experience what is very close to God’s love.
My friends, let us honor our parents. That is our love for them. God will bless those who honor their parents
That was what St. Paul said, quoting from Exodus.
Honour your father and mother’—this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ (Ephesians 6:2, 3)
Be interested in how they feel. Take care of their needs. They took care of your needs all their life. Show them your affection. Make them feel they are valued. Embrace their shortcomings. More than anything else, let us thank them for their love.