Work of the People – We don’t do this alone

Dr. Karen Shadle

Happy Mother’s Month, everyone!

Oh, did you think it was only one day? Wrong. Mom gets the whole month. Indeed, for Catholics, the entire month of May is traditionally dedicated to honoring Mary, our Blessed Mother. Wanting to follow the Church in all things, I declare that the whole month should be for moms, spiritual and earthly!

Moms in particular and families in general are a good reminder of our interdependence. It is easy to buy into a false sense of individualism, believing that who we are and what we accomplish is due solely to our own competence and hard work. But our individual efforts are only one part of the story of who we are. We don’t do it alone. We need each other. Families beautifully illustrate this reality.

In my own life, my mom is the primary caretaker for my 2-year-old daughter for much of the year. Without this help, my ministry would be very difficult. This is one example among many, and I am sure each of us can articulate similar ways that moms have helped us along in various seasons of life.

Mary, too, is the paragon of cooperation. Even in the incarnation, God shows us that we don’t do it alone. God chose to reveal his Son to us with the collaboration of Mary, even though God did not have to do it that way. It is fitting that we should spend some time to honor her for her role in salvation.

Images of Mary and the infant Jesus are stark depictions of their interdependence. Mary, the mother, holds her own salvation in her arms. Jesus, God himself, is a helpless infant. They need each other.

Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are reminded again that we don’t do it alone. At communion, the minister offers, “The Body of Christ,” and we respond, “Amen.” In this small exchange of words, we affirm the sometimes-difficult reality of the family of faith: we need each other.

First, we need Jesus, truly present in the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood, to guide our lives. Second, we need the Church, diverse in gifts, united in purpose. St. Paul’s metaphor of the body is apt. Eyes are great at seeing, but they cannot walk. Tongues are great at tasting, but they cannot hear. Neither does much good on its own.

In my stubbornness, I sometimes think that I can do it all myself. I might think that I do absolutely everything for this household, this committee, this office, this parish, and on and on. It’s a fantasy. None of it happens without the help of God and the cooperation of family.

In our mothers, our Blessed Mother, and the Eucharist, we are reminded that we don’t do it alone. I hope that this month will be an opportunity to enjoy beautiful weather, spend quality time with family, and celebrate the moms in your life. Let us also take time to give thanks for the family of faith, made present in the Body of Christ. And may our reception of the Eucharist renew our commitment to God and each other.

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