A Self-Giving Love – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily May 8, 2021

“One of the things I like to do when I go home, I don’t watch TV very often, but when I do watch TV I like to watch nature shows like Planet Earth or One Earth. It’s nice because it’s pretty relaxing and you can just fall asleep to it, but also it shows nature in its most real way. It’s different than going to Shawnee Mission Park. It’s in the wild. It’s adventurous, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You see things differently. It’s not tame. We see things kind of differently don’t we than out in the real way of nature. Darwin, he always saw nature in this way of competition that nature competes with each other to stay alive, survival of the fittest and when he makes this observation of nature, he wrote in his book On the Origin of the Species that nature acts solely for and to it’s end of each that it only acts for itself that it’s almost selfish in some ways, but that’s its very nature to stay alive. Oftentimes we look at our lives as doing the same, just staying alive and how do we do that? We grasp at power, power in the way of dominance, power, but God shows us a different way of power. It’s relying on the power of God that God is love. Love not as a noun, but a very verb itself, a giving of one’s self. There was almost a Saint, a servant of God. Her name is Catherine Doherty and she was the founder of the Madonna House Apostolate. Her model was ‘I am third’. It had it written everywhere, but that was her very model to serve, to be self-sacrificing is that I am third. Why is I am third? She explained that God, God has to always be first in our lives and second is our neighbor. We are always last. We are always last. That’s where she says, ‘I am third.’ 

A great image of this love I think is expressed in motherhood that we celebrate this weekend. Mothers deliberately put aside their own needs and put their child’s needs ahead of theirs. They sacrifice their sleep. They sacrifice their time, their routines. They sacrifice even their own self-pursuits in their life for their children. Their bodies naturally and firmly put the child in higher priority than theirs. When they are pregnant it really shows that they are second. When they are pregnant their bodies prioritize the child first so much that, and I learned, that if a child lacks calcium in the womb it will take it straight from the mother’s bone marrow to nurture the child, so for us women of faith in our very bodies it shows that we are third that God is first, we nurture our own child’s ahead of us and we come after that, but it’s amazing. It’s amazing what nature does with a woman’s body. It’s beautiful, but biologically it’s ingrained within them. It teaches them how to nurture for their own child. It gives them the instructions within their own body kind of like how Christ is telling us today. He gives us instructions for our life how to participate in his love and he says, ‘This is my commandment: Love one another.’ not only that, he tells how. He tells us exactly what he means by love one another. He says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ Now a pregnant woman, her body doesn’t die, but in some sense it gives all rights to its child. The very nature of self-preservation is given away for their child. Everything is given for it. What greater love than to lay down one’s life for friends and it’s in that that we realize that in our human nature love is written within it so clearly that even when we exist in our mother’s womb we are nurtured in a Christ like self-sacrificing way before even when we are born a self-giving love that our mother nurtured us. If that isn’t made in the image and likeness of God then I don’t know what is that it’s in our very being that we give ourselves away. Mothers do that naturally. It’s ingrained in them. Have you ever seen a mother or a lady who isn’t a mother near a child that isn’t theirs, they gravitate towards them. There’s a way of nurturing that’s ingrained within them given to them by God, so on this mother’s day, let us thank God for gift of our mothers because it’s through the nurturing and the love of others that we first experience God’s love in the world, but remember it’s through the love we receive from God through our mothers that we now go out and model so as you come to receive the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist the very Christ that gave his life for each one of us, receive that love. Give thanks for Him for in our lives and then go out and share the love we have received. Amen.”