The readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter can be found here on the USCCB Daily Readings website.
- Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48
- 1 Jn 4: 7-10
- Jn 15: 9-17
A key theme of the first reading is that God’s salvation is universal. The mission of the apostles extends to the “Gentiles” as Peter and Cornelius embrace. The Holy Spirit moves beyond the original community. The Holy Spirit cannot be contained or trapped. In the second reading and the gospel, the motif of love is preeminent. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.” “Love one another as I love you.”
As I reflect on these readings today, I ask myself where the Spirit is moving today. Where do I witness people caring for and serving others selflessly? Where do I witness mutual love grounded in justice and respect? I think of the teachers at my children’s school. I think of the nurses and staff at local nursing homes. I think of family members caring for one another in difficult times during the past year. God is in the midst of those relationships of love and service.
Here’s what we shouldn’t do with these readings on Mother’s Day weekend. We shouldn’t assume that love is only evident among heterosexual couples. We shouldn’t assume that all married couples have healthy relationships. We shouldn’t assume that all women want to be, or are called to be, mothers. We should assume that some women in the pews are grieving from pregnancy loss and would find a focus on “motherhood” challenging during their experience of Mass. If we are to emphasize the motif of love in today’s gospel, we must avoid any messages that could shame women in the pews.
Mother’s Day weekend is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves that every day, 830 women die of complications during childbirth, according to the World Health Organization. The UNFPA reports that nearly half of women in 57 developing countries are denied the right to decide whether to have sex with their partners, use contraception, or seek health care. In the US context, tens of thousands of women are in jail because they cannot afford bail, pre-trial. (Read more and take action at National Bailout).
Our church teaches that women have inherent human dignity. But sexism in the Catholic Church persists, and opportunities to invest in girls’ education, sex education, and access to comprehensive health care are regularly politicized and time goes on without enough action taken. This Mother’s Day is a time to recommit to proven interventions to reduce maternal mortality, expand access to affordable child care, expand nutrition and housing assistance for families, and seek common ground on contested issues rooted in justice, care, and love.