YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: “JESUS LOOKED UP TO HEAVEN AND PRAYED, ‘O FATHER MOST HOLY, PROTECT THEM WITH YOUR NAME WHICH YOU HAVE GIVEN ME.’” (John 17:11)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
As Mom carved the rare roast beef at the kitchen counter on a long ago Sunday afternoon, Snoopy the cat took up her accustomed place three feet away, eyes following the back-and- forth movement of the carving knife. Home for a brief visit, I sat at the nearby dinette table salivating along with the cat. Now that all six of their progeny were grown and out of the house, Mom, Dad and Snoopy were the sole occupants. And like all families, the three of them had developed their own unspoken rituals. As I watched, Mom carved a small slice of the steaming roast, waved it under Snoopy’s nose, then dropped it squarely into the cat’s feeding dish on the floor under the counter. Snoopy, of course, following the trail of the aroma, hopped down and stuck her nose into the dish. I noted that, once again, the cat, master of manipulation, got to eat dinner first, and she got the hottest and juiciest piece of beef.
As Mom finished the carving, I watched Snoopy batting the uneaten piece of roast beef around the kitchen floor. I’d seen such playful activity with catnip, but not with what was obviously meant to be eaten. Dad addressed the animal: “Come on, you stupid cat, eat the meat!” Eyeing him, she rolled over twice on the floor and batted the roast beef against the refrigerator door. “Come on, Snoopy, eat it; it’s good for you,” Dad cajoled, but ignoring him, she tossed the meat several feet into the air with an especially agile swat of the paw.
With Mom, Dad and I staring at the cat, our own roast beef was growing cold on the platter. Seeing that this scene could go on for some time, I picked up the cat's beef chunk from the floor, now warm enough for her to eat—tossing it into the air had cooled it off: smart cat!—I tore it into smaller pieces, and dropped it back into her dish. With that, Snoopy ambled over to her roast beef, as did Mom, Dad and I to ours, and began to eat.
Older and wiser now, I saw something of myself in the simple scene before me. How often Mom and Dad had provided my sisters, brothers and me with the finest sustenance, be it wisdom shared, compassion generously bestowed—the very best cuts of the meat of life. And how often did we toss it into the air like a plaything, failing to recognize the nourishment offered us? How much wisdom and love was served to us by our parents, and how much of it did we just bat against the refrigerator door?
Jesus, too, experienced much the same. He knew he was about to leave his disciples, and he wanted to leave them with so much, especially his example of self-sacrificing love, but they just didn’t understand. Finally, perhaps with even a bit of exasperation, Jesus looked heavenward and asked his Father to protect those he loved. I expect Mom and Dad did the same—looked heavenward with less patience than Jesus and asked the Father to protect us kids. On this Mother’s Day, let us ask for the wisdom to appreciate God’s “daily bread” delivered by the hands and hearts of Mothers, Fathers and all other guardians.