Today my eyes fell on these words in the Mass readings: “Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world” (Jn 5:4). Conquers the world? Really? As a mother, I do not feel like I am conquering the world. I do not even feel like I am conquering getting dinner on the table tonight. I do not feel like I am conquering training my children to behave well or be mannerly. When I have to say, “Please do not speak that way” for the seven-thousandth time to the same person, I cannot help but think that I have failed as a mother.
Recently I was on my knees in Mass praying for my children. I presented a myriad of concerns and problems before the Lord. I was suddenly overwhelmed with consolation as though God were saying to me: “Find yourself in the Eucharist.” I could see my frail efforts through the lenses of the broken body of Christ. As a mother, I am “broken” in my body—the labor and childbirths; rocking and carrying children in my arms; time spent driving them around town, helping them with homework, running errands for them, cooking meals for them, rather than spending that time on caring for my own body. As a mother, I am “broken” in my spirit, when other children exclude or reject my child, or when my child makes decisions that cause me pain. As I pondered it, I realized that in these past twenty or so years of motherhood, the vast majority of my experiences can be seen as reflected in the Eucharist because the whole vocation for me is one of offering myself up out of love for my children, as Christ offered himself out of unfathomable love for us.
Am I a conqueror? As a mother, I do not feel powerful. But the first Letter of John is clear: there is only one thing we need in order to have conquered the world, which is to be begotten by God. In our baptism, in our partaking in the sacraments, and in our heart’s love for God and our choice to dwell in him, we are begotten by God and into his divine family. It is due to our faith that we are conquerors. Faith is more powerful than we can even imagine. Our power does not come from high-ranking jobs, comfortable living, money, health, physical or mental strength, or good reputation. Our power comes from our faith.
Mothers who live in Christ have a special way of living out their faith. Just as Christ’s power was manifest through his being born in a stable in a poor, occupied country, and through his death on a cross, so too does our power come through our littleness, poverty, and weakness. Just as Christ’s power is the power of love, a love that conquers death and sin, so too is our power the power of love. My newfound hope is that, as a person begotten by God, motherhood is my personal way of living out my new life in Christ. Through the smallness of my role as a mother, I hope to be united to the infinite power of God.
Jesus, I offer my motherly efforts to be united to you in the Eucharist. Let my love be magnified and transformed into your divine love. Please accept my frailty and brokenness and let them be perfected in you. Let them be the chance for your power to transform my heart and my home, and let my motherhood be my path to joining with you in conquering the world. Amen.