Our Lady of Fatima, motherhood at its finest

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The Lord Is My Chef Easter Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May 2024
Isaiah 61:9-11 ><}}}*> Galatians 4:4-7 ><}}}*> Luke 11:27-28
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

We celebrate today the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima when she first appeared there in Portugal on May 13, 1917. What a wonderful coincidence the eve of her Memorial was the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension that fell on the third Sunday of May, Mother’s Day.

What a wondrous alignment of celebrations this May – the Lord’s Ascension, Mother’s Day and Memorial of Fatima – as they all speak of love and belongingness despite the painful reality of separations we experience while in this life filled with sufferings and darkness due to evil and sin.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, it was not about His going up to a certain place or location in the universe but actually a leveling up of His relationships with the Father and with us. Though He had physically left earth, He is still very much present in the world. In fact, Jesus had to leave us physically to be with us at all time here in this life.

True to His promise of not totally leaving us, Jesus not only sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell in each of us to make us strong and holy but also gave us His Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary to be our Mother too in this world still filled with sufferings and darkness due to the seeming prevalence of sin and evil.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:26-27

The Blessed Mother’s apparition in Fatima, Portugal more than 100 years ago was a resounding proof of the reality of God and His abiding love for mankind in this modern time when the world is more bent in denying His very existence.

How lovely that in reminding modern man of Himself to us, God used the most unique yet so common experience of everyone in every race – the mother. Everyone of us, including the most hardened criminals, always have two softest spots in our hearts, for children and our own mother. The umbilical cord with our mothers remain forever with us, even after they have died. This I realized yesterday on Mother’s Day.

While rehearsing my homily for the Mass, I had a hearty cry in my room when I came to the part of inserting the celebration of Mother’s Day. How can I speak of Mother’s Day when I am now “motherless”?

But hey…!!!

As I prayed and reviewed my prepared homily yesterday, I realized we are never “motherless” in this world!

Mothers are like Jesus Christ who ascended into heaven: when a mother dies, she remains a mother to us. Still so loving and caring.

Like Jesus who ascended into heaven, our mothers have to die and depart too to be with us more than ever. Those memories of our mother’s selfless love, from her singing of lullabies to make us fall into sleep to all her sacrifices we never saw and knew but so evident in her wrinkles and gray hair remain fresh until the end of our lives, assuring us of her and God’s love, that we shall get by in this life even when we do not see her like Jesus.

The Jews have a saying that God created mothers so that He can be everywhere. So true! That is why mothers are always lovely, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom bedecked with her jewels” (Is.61:10).

Photo by author, December 2023.

Mary’s apparition in Fatima is motherhood at its finest, non pareil in history and the world. She appeared at the most crucial moment when the world was in great transition in all aspects of life that tempted us to go on our own, bragging on our achievements and knowledge.

Just like what happens in most families when many leave their families behind, especially their mother, blinded by success and the limelight. Despite all the hurts, mothers are life’s most enduring proof of God’s mercy and love. Like most mothers appealing to their children to return to their father, to come home, Mary called us in Fatima to go back to the Father in Jesus through the three children of Fatima. Her calls were very similar with every mother’s appeal to her children – pray always and repent.

Mary at Fatima reminds us of our own mothers who would never sleep – and die – until she’s assured her children are safe back home. See how the recent turn of events in history in the last 50 years were still shaped or affected by the Fatima apparition that further bolstered it to be one of the most popular devotion and pilgrimage sites in the world today.

Fatima and Mother’s Day cannot be separated from each other primarily because of all the mothers, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the foremost of all mothers in all time, the model disciple of her Son Jesus Christ not because of her just giving birth to Him but most of all, being the first to believe in Him!

While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

Luke 11:27-28

May we heed the calls of the Blessed Mother in Fatima. Most of all, let us be like her, a model disciple of Jesus Christ, be a “mother” to everyone, nurturing and inspiring others with our faithful witnessing of the gospel especially in this time when people in many parts of the world are at edge or actually in war already, forgetting we are all brothers and sisters in one Father in heaven.

Our dear Mother Mary of Fatima,
thank you for coming to us
to remind us 
of God's love,
to assure us
we are never motherless
in this world;
help us to share 
God's loving tenderness
and fidelity to promise
to never forsake us;
may our lives nurture
and inspire others to hope
and be open to God
in the midst of the seeming
meaningless world,
striving to do what is
true and good,
making Jesus present
in a humanity so often
absent to God.
Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima,
pray for us!
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