The Holy Spirit, the Vine, and Mothers
By Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy
15″If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. [John 14:15-17]
At the beginning of chapter 14 in the Gospel according to Saint John starts with these comforting words: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” And to ensure such trust, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be with the disciples in our text this Sunday. To those who attend the Roman Catholic and other Protestant churches, the gospel reading this Sunday is about Jesus as the vine. It tells about the relationships of vine and vine grower, vine and branches give us an analogy of the relationships of faith. Jesus speaks to believers, who have already been pruned, fed, tended, and who now must produce fruit. That will only happen by abiding, living, and connected to the vine, in love.
In the Episcopal Church, the gospel lesson deals with relationships of faith shown in the Holy Trinity. In the above verses is Jesus’ powerful promise, “I will not leave you orphaned.” Followers are assured that even in his absence; he will be present in the Holy Spirit, who will abide in believers as he does in God.
Both themes in the above gospel lessons are very much relevant to the secular celebration of Mother’s Day which falls today, the second Sunday of May.
Let me share this piece written by David Weatherford entitled, ‘Tribute to Mother’. Your gentle guidance has immeasurably influenced all that I have done, all that I do, and all that I will ever do. Your sweet spirit is indelibly imprinted on all that I have been, all that I am, and all that I will ever be. Thus, you are a part of all that I accomplish and all that I become. And so it is that when I help my neighbor, your helping hand is there also. When I ease the pain of a friend, she owes a debt to you. When I show a child better way, either by word or by example, You are the teacher once removed. Because everything I do reflects values I learned from you, Any wrong that I right, any heart I may brighten, any gift that I share, or burden I may lighten, is in its own small way a tribute to you. Because you gave me life, and more importantly, lessons in how to live, you are the wellspring from which flows all good I may achieve in my time on earth. For all that you are and all that I am, thank you, Mom.
We all know that the early years of a child are so important. Our attitudes, our personalities, our values, our habits, our principles —perhaps above all, our self-esteem — and to some degree, our IQ’s, are shaped powerfully by what happens to us in the first years of early childhood. And we must admit that our mother is the most influential person and teacher that molded us to become what we are today. If we detach ourselves from the good formation we received from our mothers we will be likened to a branch cut off from the vine and we perish – literally. For sure, trouble will come our way once we veer from the guidance and principles that our mother inculcated in us. If we maintain ourselves connected to these, even if our mother will be gone, she will always be with and abide in us.
It is the same with our relationship with our Savior. We cannot live the Christian life and be fruitful Christians apart from Christ any more than a branch could live after being tore off the tree trunk. Every branch draws its identity, its sustenance, its life from the vine. No two branches are alike and yet they are all the same. Paradoxical as it is, it is true. Every Christian is unique and yet every Christian is the same. Our identity is derived from the Vine. We are known by the Vine. We receive our sustenance and life from the Vine. And this relationship is galvanized with the presence and recognition of the guidance of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us.
Let me share this story which I read from the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.
In Glasgow, Scotland, a young lady, like a lot of teens today, got tired of home and the restraints of her parents. The daughter rejected her family’s religious lifestyle and said, “I don’t want your God. I gave up. I’m leaving!” She left home, deciding to become a woman of the world. Before long, however, she was dejected and unable to find a job, so she took to the streets to sell her body as a prostitute. The years passed by, her father died, her mother grew older, and the daughter became more and more entrenched in her way of life. No contact was made between mother and daughter during these years. The mother, having heard of her daughter’s whereabouts, made her way to the skid-row section of the city in search of her daughter. She stopped at each of the rescue missions with a simple request. “Would you allow me to put up this picture?” It was a picture of the smiling, gray-haired mother with a handwritten message at the bottom: “I love you still….come home!”
Some more months went by, and nothing happened. Then one day the daughter wandered into a rescue mission for a needed meal. She sat absent-mindedly listening to the service, all the while letting her eyes wander over to the bulletin board. There she saw the picture and thought, Could that be my mother?
She couldn’t wait until the service was over. She stood and went to look. It was her mother, and there were those words, “I love you still…come home!” As she stood in front of the picture, she wept. It was too good to be true. By this time it was night, but she was so touched by the message that she started walking home. By the time she arrived it was early in the morning. She was afraid and made her way timidly, not really knowing what to do. As she knocked, the door flew open on its own. Concerned for her mother’s safety, the young woman ran to the bedroom and found her still sleeping. She shook her mother awake and said, “It’s me! It’s me! I’m home!” The mother could not believe her eyes. She wiped her tears and they fell into each other’s arms. The daughter said, “I was so worried! The door was open and I thought someone had broken in!”
The mother replied gently, “No dear. From the day you left, that door has never been locked.”**