You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. She is the model of caring and concern for one’s child. St. Paul uses this tender image in our first reading: “We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.”
This makes me think of C.S. Lewis’ description of love in The Four Loves: friendship, erotic/romantic love, self-donating (agape) love, and parental love. I think caring love, is a combination of God’s love for us (agape, which means total self-giving), and parental love, as when a parent gets up in the night to calm and soothe a frightened child, or lets their food get cold while tending the little one in the high chair. May St. Monica ask that God inspire us to giving such caring love.
So what will “caring love” look like for me today?
—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J., a Jesuit of the New England province, assists in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit community.
Lord, some days we are overjoyed with our children’s efforts, values, and decisions; other days we worry so much for their life direction. Some days we feel like award winning parents, other days like parents watching our children drown. We can’t swim and no lifesaving raft exists. Calm our hearts; Quadruple our trust. Remind us that no one loves our children more than you. Give us the wisdom to blend compassion and firmness and may your Spirit guide us to know when to hold tight and when to let go.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team