By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp
Homily for Mothers Day
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Mothers and Preachers

Based on 1 Peter 3:15-16

The great preacher, Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons all of whom grew up to become preachers. One day, a visitor arrived and found the whole family sitting around a table in the sitting room. The visitor decided to tease one of the boys named Howard. "Howard," he asked, "who is the greatest preacher in your family?" Howard who had a great admiration for his father took a look at his father across the table and without a moment's hesitation answered, "Mother."

Mothers may not know it but they are often responsible for the faith development of their children more than many preachers put together. Take the case of Madam Jones, a mother of eight who wanted to become a preacher. She consulted the pastor to help her discern whether indeed God wanted her to be a preacher. After listening to her story the pastor said to her, "Madam Jones, God indeed wants you to be a preacher. You see He has already given you the congregation" (meaning her large family). So on this Mother's Day, I will like us to reflect on mothers and preaching. We shall focus on 1 Peter 3:15-16.

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (vs. 15b).

Who are these people who demand from us an account of the hope that is in us? The answer, of course, is anyone. But more especially people with whom we live and interact on a daily basis. For mothers this will mean their husbands and children. People challenge our faith in the workplace and in social gatherings, but the challenge that comes from family is more demanding and more insistent.

The challenges that come from family and children can be both explicit and implicit. Sometimes children ask you explicitly and directly, "Mom, why do we do this?" or "Why do we say that?" Their questions can be very hard to answer. Like the seven year old boy who asked his mother, "Mom, if God is everywhere why do we have to go to church to pray?" But, hard as the questions they ask may be, that is actually the easy part. The hard part is being attentive enough to hear the questions they are asking, not in so many words but by their changing attitudes and comportment, by their body language. Mothers who are able to hear and respond to the unspoken questions of their children are not just great mothers but great preachers as well. Children today are growing up in an increasingly confused world. They need answers. Are we ready to provide them?

St Peter advises us to "always be ready". But how can we be ready to defend the truth of our faith, you may ask? The simple answer is: we must be grounded in the faith ourselves and only then shall we be able to share it with those around us. Nemo dat quod non habet: You can't give what you don't have. We must make effort to know our faith more deeply by studying the basic documents of our faith, the Bible, the teachings of the church, and the lives of men and women of faith, the Saints. It was St Jerome who said that: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."

Yet do it with gentleness and reverence (vs. 16a)

This advice is very pertinent to mothers who tend to be so impatient with their children because they have such a great love for them. A tender and gentle approach is often more effective with children than a harsh and abusive attitude.

Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame (vs. 16b)

Peter finally reminds us of the sublime truth that when it comes to sharing our faith with others, example speaks louder than words. In fact, it is said that the greatest legacy that a mother can leave her children in this world is the testimony of a deep and exemplary life of faith. And so I will like to end this homily with the words of Dorothy Law Nolte:

Children Learn What They Live (adapted)

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world.

God bless you mothers as you go about your difficult task of imparting the faith to our children.

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