2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31
Luke 19: 11-28
The role of the mother in the first reading from the Book of Maccabees’ opened up a flood of memories from my life. My memories have to do with both words and examples of the older people in my life. That includes my mother and dad, my grandparents, aunts and uncles and teachers, along with the long association with my Passionist community elders. This is going to be hard: picking out just a couple among many, many examples!
First example…I’m in my late thirties and being driven by my Dad to the airport in Detroit. We arrive at the airport and I lean over to give my Dad a hug. I get out and reach for my luggage in the back seat. I look up at my dad and wish him a safe trip back home. He looks at me with a smile and says, "Pete, I love you." I can honestly say that I knew that. My Dad showed that love in many, many ways. But to see that smile and hear those words…oh, my! Those words, "I love you, Pete," kept coming back to me again and again as I flew on to Sacramento, CA. Interestingly enough ever after that Dad never finished a phone call without closing with, "Pete, I love you."
Another incident which brings memorable smiles to me was my arrival by plane back in Detroit, a couple of years later, dressed in slacks and sport shirt. On our way home Dad very gently looked at me and said, "I am really proud of you as my priest son. You know, I like seeing you in your black suit and collar." I honored that request. There were public appearances when it was most appropriate. I cherish those memories of walking side by side with him.
Important elders in our lives like the Mom with the seven sons in the Book of Maccabees do provide tremendous support. Many serious, life giving moments have occurred in my life and, I am sure, in yours. I was talking to an elder Dad recently who shared that he was being criticized for hanging in over several very troublesome years as his son battled with alcoholism which led to divorce and separation from his children. The elder Dad says, "I was criticized for hanging in there, providing money, a temporary place to stay, even though it was rough and painful. But how could I not give up…he is my son."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.