Today Emmanuel Macron takes his office as the new president of France at his age of 39. The French people seem to prefer gossiping about Macron’s love affair with Brigitte, the first lady of the country, to the French politics. She told Paris Match: “At the age of 17, Emmanuel told me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you.’ Love took everything in its path and led me to divorce.” At that time she was his 41 year old high school teacher, a married mother of 3 children. After she divorced her husband, the 54 years old bride and the 29 year old groom married in 2007. Now the couple’s photo really looks like a 64 year old mother and her 39 year old young son. According to Anne Fulda, a journalist, this is what Brigitte said to her: “Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret.” Although I don’t know their secret, I believe the first lady of France must have been a powerful, encouraging, and greatly inspiring teacher-coach, lover-confidante, and mother-wife for Macron over their 10 year marital life and beyond going back to their secret love affair years. If I found out my 17 year old high school son is in love with his 41 year old high school teacher and eventually wants to marry her, I ask to myself, a life-time Methodist pastor, how would I react to my son and his teacher as his parent? Now I can see more clearly a cultural difference between a WASP Puritan mentality and a Catholic French mentality.
When we develop our human love in response to God’s love, we begin to realize a big cultural difference between them. When our love for God is genuine in our human love, the quality of our human love will improve for being less demanding and more human. How good it is then to have the love of a good mother from whom we received life. How good to have the Holy Mother Church from whom we have faith in the God who died and is risen for us because we matter. The word matter is from the Latin, Mater, mother. That is to say in Christian sense: matter, material, this world, our mother are good as God’s creation, while the Greek thought considered the body, the matter, the corporeal and the visible are bad. To the Greek thought, only the soul, the spirit, the incorporeal and the invisible are good and beautiful. I think it is a great blessing to have a good mother. It makes it easier for one to believe in a good God.
Today is also a special day for us to commemorate George Melicharek who passed away 5 years ago. Since death came into human life as God’s curse, as a wage of sin, it may not be pleasant to talk about death on Mother’s Day. However, it is reality that no one can escape death. So in this season of post-Easter, let us contemplate on death, celebrating Melicharek’s faith journey on the basis of the renowned biblical passage: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” (Revelation 14:13).
According to today’s gospel text, Jesus says at the Last Supper: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1). Here Jesus asks us only to do this: “Believe in God, believe also in me.” For all the rest he says he will take of it: “I go and prepare a place for you and I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3) At the End, when Jesus will come again, there will be a whole new creation, a new heaven and a new earth where the dead are risen as the Christ is risen. In other words, salvation work is done by God and Jesus, not by us. It’s God’s grace, Our job is just to believe in God and also Jesus. How can we do that? Paul answers: “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). Consequently, Paul raises a despairing question: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). The New Testament answers: The Holy Spirit.
According to the Greek thought of the immortal soul, death is a friend that liberates the immortal soul from the body; the body is the prison. However, according to the primitive Christian faith, the body is not the prison but the temple of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (I Corinthians 6:19); and death is not the friend but God’s enemy to be destroyed at the End and “be thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14). Do you recognize how Mary Magdalene’s life is contrasting between before and after she encountered the risen Lord? Do you remember how contrasting the two disciples’ lives between before and after they met the risen Lord on the way to Emmaus? Do you realize how St. Paul’s life was changed after he met the risen Lord on the way to Damascus? If you encounter or already encountered the risen Lord, your life also can be divided into two: before and after the moment when you met the risen Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Unless one is born from above by the Holy Spirit, he or she can neither see the kingdom of God nor enter it. (John 3:3, 5). When the Holy Spirit dwells in our body, “our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (II Corinthians 4:16). It means that we live and die in faith, hope and love that we would be risen like Christ and enter the kingdom of God at the end of time. Therefore, Paul writes: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?…Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:55-57). Dear folks in Christ! Shall we sing together, “Victory in Jesus,” (UMH 370)?
Gospel Text: John 14:1-14