Homily – May 9

Today is Mother’s Day and as I say every year to mothers, ‘milk it for all its worth.’ This is the day restaurants and florist make out like bandits. Just as every day should be Thanksgiving Day so too every day should be Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It’s true we set aside one day of the year to honor our mothers and fathers but it would be wonderful if we had a constant sense of gratitude and appreciation for what our mothers and fathers have done for us. Sadly some people may not have had the best of relationships with their mother or father; some people have grown up in what can only be called dysfunctional families. This is a sad reality and we keep such people in our thoughts and prayers.
We use the word ‘mother’ in many different ways. We speak of Mother Church and up on Bayview Avenue we have the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph; Loreto Abbey is the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Loreto. Prospectors call a large strike of ore a mother load. Today as we honor mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers we can think for a while of a mother common to us all: Mother Earth. In the light of the situation in Gulf of Mexico this could be an appropriate time to think about this life giving, life sustaining Mother. For some time now Mother Earth has been in trouble. Her human family has and is treating her and the other life systems of the planet with great disrespect. We’ve exploited her un-renewable resources, wiped out her life systems, extinguished species and destroyed rains forests which are the very lungs of the planet. All this to keep us in a life style to which we are accustomed.
British Petroleum’s massive oil spill is just another example of the irreparable damage we are capable of doing to the planet. Whole communities of life, migratory birds, fish from shrimp to whales, all the life sustained by wetlands are at the mercy of winds and tides. Seeing the massive size of the oil slick is scary, presently the leak is spilling 60,000 barrels of oil a day. If this oil reaches shore and invades the wetlands and bayous and beaches it will take generations to undo the damage done and restore the life systems lost.
Whenever we have these environmental mishaps we tend to treat them as an isolated incident. In environmental issues there is no such thing as an isolated incident. The planet is made up of interconnected, interdependent life systems and when one system is diminished that diminishment spreads to other systems.
Remember the statement, ‘we did not weave the web of life, we are a strand in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves?’ We humans are not over and above the earth, we are immersed in the earth and are of the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves. What is happening in the Gulf of Mexico will have an impact of us, not just on our pocketbooks but on the quality of our lives. When any of the life systems of the planet are damaged we are damaged.
How many of us have heard our frustrated, upset, tired mothers say ‘you’ll be sorry when I’m gone.’ Usually this cry comes from mothers who feel unappreciated and taken for granted. ‘You’ll be sorry when I’m gone’ comes from a mother frustrated or discouraged by a son or daughter, even a husband who ignores her sound advice, or won’t lift a finger to help around the house.
You’ll be sorry when I’m gone. Right now Mother Earth, this planet that is our home, this planet that sustains all life is a wounded, tired, taken for granted mother and her life systems are under stress. The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico must be a wake up call to all of us because we will be sorry when she’s gone, when Earth is diminished.
On this Mother’s Day we can pray for a deeper insight into our relationship with Earth and all its life communities and try to re-insert ourselves into these communities, for they are family. On this Mother’s Day we pray for a greater awareness that our Mother is tired, weary and wounded. On this Mother’s Day we pray for a deeper appreciation of the beauty and the glory of creation, a beauty and glory that mirrors the beauty and glory of the God we worship here today.