First of all, Happy Mother’s Day today to those of you who are mothers, grandmothers and godmothers!
Yesterday after Mass, Barb, a family friend walked up to me to say hello and wanted to acknowledge that she knew Mother’s Day might be hard without my Mom. Their family lost their mom, Anne, not too long after my Mom died. It will be ten years this September, so nine Mother’s Days without her. It is kind of a melancholy day but I will buy a fern for her this week to hang by the porch as I have every year since we moved in the duplex. She had them growing up outside her family home and it was something she enjoyed here. Barb’s comment was thoughtful and I realized later how much I was moved by her kindness.
I spent a few moments looking at the scripture readings for this week and immediately found two passages to reflect on. The first one is one of my favorites in the entire Acts of the Apostles. I actually enjoy Acts, some find it tedious or boring, but it’s the life of the early Church so I find it helpful to reflect on all the apostles and early disciples were doing after Jesus ascended and left them with the Spirit to guide and inspire them. The first one is the first reading for the Mass tomorrow, for Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter. It is Acts 16: 11-15 and is a brief, 4-verse, story of Lydia, a dealer of purple cloth. She is a model and a guide to me as a woman in the church.
I can’t recall when that story first impacted me so deeply but it has been several years. We don’t know much about Lydia, except that she was called the dealer or business woman in the cloth trades, an expensive purple-dyed cloth. Was she a widow? Her husband isn’t mentioned by St. Luke, so she is the head of the household. She was the influential woman in her community and her state in life. After listening to Paul and being baptized, Lydia invited Paul and his missionary group to stay at her home. That’s it, that’s all we know. I can’t recall if the story first touched me, in a new way, when I was in the Lay Ministry Program in our Diocese, or later serving on a Bishop’s Commission for Women, But as a single woman, an Oblate and at the time, a well-paid professional I looked to Lydia as a exemplar of my role in the church, to be bold in my faith and to use my means to support the work of the Church. I also try to be a helpful and encouraging voice to the priests that I have become friends with. They have a daunting task, as do all who are serving the Church as religious. I have shared Lydia’s story with others since she became one of my patron Saints and they have acknowledged that those four verses have not stood out to them as they have heard Acts proclaimed over the years.
My other scripture example is regarding Saint Matthias, whose Feast Day is today, but since it is a Sunday, isn’t acknowledged in Mass prayer. St. Matthias is, like Lydia, only mentioned in a few brief lines in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:15-26). St. Matthias was the choice of the apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. He is actually only mentioned in verses 23 and 26, the rest of the scripture is about the process and the prayer of the apostles as they choose a replacement. Matthias became one of the Twelve, one of the early bishops of a fledgling Church – two verses and is not mentioned again.
The influence of another on our lives can be long-lasting, regardless of the length of time they are present in our life, in person, story or example. Some of us have our mothers for a shorter amount of time than we would prefer, others are graced with the gift of many years. Either way to the outside world it may just seem like a few short lines in the large book of our life, but to us, the impact is immeasurable. Let us spend a few minutes today being thankful for the gift of our mother, grandmother, or women who acted like a mother to us. I will remember several in prayer today. If you are lucky enough to be able to be with them in person, then enjoy every moment of it!
The image for today is a picture of a statue of St. Luke that I have in my garden, along with a rogue Columbine flower that ventured away from the main plant. Besides being one of the synoptic Gospel writers, it is believed that St. Luke wrote Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke also tells more stories about women than the other Gospel writers and depicts women as women of faith, women who have been healed and forgiven, and women who are part of the community of faith, the new Church.
To learn a bit more about St. Lydia, click here.