May 12, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we also celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to honor and reflect on the role of motherhood within our faith and families. In the second reading for this Sunday, we learn that if God loved us so profoundly, we too must love one another (cf. 1 Jn 4:11-16). This call to love is vividly embodied in the sacrificial, enduring love of a mother. In the Gospel, Jesus offers a High Priestly Prayer, emphasizing unity and protection for His disciples (cf. Jn 17:11b-19). This protective love mirrors the maternal care a mother provides, tirelessly working to unite and shield her family through the strength of her faith and love.

Mother’s Day, while a celebration, can also evoke a spectrum of emotions. For some, like Naomi in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, who experienced the profound loss of her sons, today may revive memories of children lost. For others, like Eve in the Book of Genesis, who endured the heartbreak of witnessing her first son, Cain, strike down her beloved younger son, Abel, today may bring reminders of the complexities and sometimes painful outcomes of children’s choices. These stories from Scripture open our hearts to the various paths of motherhood encountered in our congregation.

This month of May, we also honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the exemplar of motherly care and love. Mary’s journey underscores her unwavering faith and the profound sorrows and joys of motherhood. From her acceptance of her role as the mother of Jesus to her silent sufferings and steadfast presence at the foot of the cross, Mary exemplifies the deep spiritual vocation of a mother. Her life reminds us that true motherly love is both a refuge and a beacon for her children, guiding them through the light of faith and love.

Every woman among us, whether she bears children or nurtures others through spiritual kinship, participates in the vocation of motherhood. Our Church is blessed with many mothers and all who take on a mothering role, nurturing and guiding not just through words, but through the example of their lives.

On this special day, like all of you, I want to say a big Thank You to my own mother, the most precious person in my life, for all her love throughout my life, and above all for her continued sacrifice of letting me go from our beloved home in Forest Hills, so that I can dedicate my whole life to God’s service and be present to you here at this parish, even as she would need me to be with her now more than ever in her old age. I must also express my deep gratitude to my adopted “American” grandmother who lives in Kew Gardens, a silent apostle of prayer, who has accompanied me with so much love and prayerful support since my seminary days until now. Additionally, I am blessed by a few remarkable women in this community who have shown me motherly care, attending to both my spiritual and physical well-being with such loving concern. I am deeply grateful for their goodness and support.

Today, as we reflect on the varied experiences of biblical mothers like Naomi, Eve, and Mary, let us embrace the full spectrum of motherhood in our own community. Whether you are experiencing the immediate challenges of raising children, navigating the complexities of adult children’s choices, mourning a loss, or celebrating the successes of your offspring, know that your role is vital and cherished.

I encourage each of you to extend your motherly care within our parish. Our community thrives under the guidance of those who, like Mary, act as beacons of faith and love. This Mother’s Day, let us recommit to nurturing each other, offering support, wisdom, and love to all in need.

With deepest affection and gratitude for all that you do, dear mothers, may God bless you, comfort you, and grant you joy in every aspect of motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham