Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Total Self-Giving "by Regina Madonna Oliver, from A Promise of Presence

"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Proverbs, 31:29 (NRSV)
Usplash: Mathis Jrdl

Hing Fa Ho was a wife, mother and grandmother. She had endured much in the struggle to raise a family in China. She spent years playing sole resident parent while her husband worked abroad in the American Merchant Marines to earn enough to maintain his family. Finally, hoping to provide a better life for her family, Hing Fa Ho journeyed with her husband to America to begin a new life in a strange country whose language she was never to master. She and her husband were people of a dream-a dream for a better future for their children and for the generations to come.

By the time her son and his wife and three children emigrated to the United States, Hing and her husband had established themselves in their new country. They were able to provide a stable home for their three grandchildren while their son moved from place to place in an attempt to establish himself in a field of medicine he could practice. In addition to raising their grandchil­dren, Hing and her husband managed to provide them with the financial assistance they needed to pursue their respective interests in college. Unable to speak English herself, Hing raised three totally Americanized young people: two became engineers, one became a lawyer.

For several years Hing Fa Ho had suffered physical depletion due to old age, to the point of being unable to move from her bed. Her daughter-in-law nursed her, but the constant demands of care­ giving were beginning to take a serious toll. The three grandchil­dren consulted and decided to relieve their mother and move their grandmother to northern Virginia where two of them lived. There they would be able to give her constant loving care for as long as God might give her life. She, who had mothered them in their adapting to a new country and been there to nurture them through their growing years, would now receive their care and nurturing.

The grandchildren rented an RV, gently put Grandmother to bed in its ample space, and transported her from Florida to Vir­ginia. For a few days Hing enjoyed the company of her son and daughter-in-law, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, all together with her for the first time. In retrospect, it seems that this is what she struggled to stay alive for-to be reunited with those she had loved and nurtured and to see the results of those developing years in the fruitfulness of their successful lives and in the blossoming of the next generation. After only a few days of experiencing this fulfillment, Hing Fa Ho slipped peacefully into her eternal dream of being in peace and joy with her husband and her ancestors in God's eternity.

Consider the stamina it required, the courage and total self­ giving it took, for this woman to live such a life of dedication to her marriage and the primacy of family. The Holy Spirit of God, whatever one may call it and in whatever idiom or tongue, is the source of every good and holy inspiration in us. This is the Spirit that empowered Hing Fa Ho and that welcomed the good and faithful servant into the eternity of joy and peace she expected. As Hing came to the joyful end of her journey, we were privileged to contemplate a full life well spent. Her journey is also the journey of every person on this globe, in every era, who lives a life of selfless devotion in pursuit of deeply revered principles and sacred values.


Think about God and the Holy One's relationship with humanity. Do you see the universality of God's love reaching out and embracing each and every member of the human race-or are you inclined to think in terms of only your own ethnic or religious background? Do you realize that God's Holy Spirit is inspiring the good in each and every human person, wherever good is to be found-even beyond the narrow confines of classic Christianity? To reflect more on the universality ofJesus' ministry, read Mark 7:24-30. Spend time with Jesus thinking about his open, all-embracing attitude toward every person.


Prayerfully consider the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the way she reflected Jesus' compassion in her outreach to any and every dying person, regardless of status or religion. That someone was a fellow human being in need was enough for her, just as it was enough for Jesus. Read of Jesus' compassion in Mark 5:1-20, and talk with him about your present way of viewing others. Are you in tune with Jesus' all-embracing attitude? If so, thank him for this grace in your life. If you find you are not in line with Jesus' values, ask him to change your heart.


Read about Jesus' exchange with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Talk with Jesus about his compassionate love for every human being. Notice that he does not condemn the Samaritan woman. He sees her as an abused woman, having been spurned by several men in her life-in a society where only a man could give a writ of divorce. He does not spurn her. Rather, he chooses her to be the evangelist and apostle to her townspeople.


Read John 5:19, 37-42. Talk with Jesus about this Scripture. Make this your prayer today:

May I love more broadly and more deeply. Let my love reach out to each and every one, just as your love does. Let me see as you see, Jesus, and love with your own univer­sal, all-embracing love.


Reflect on the lines of this well-known poem, and think of all the wonderful kinds of people who are part of this amazing creation of God. Thank God for their amazing and fascinating differences; for the antiquity and wisdom of their cultures; for the longing God has placed in each human heart to reach out to the Divine.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small; All things wise and wonderful; images of  divine abundance! 


Can you think of a person in your life who is like Hing Fa Ho in her or his dedication to principle? Recall noble women and men you've known- or known about-and thank God for their lives.


Spend time with Jesus today reflecting on your life and how you wish to be like the valiant woman described in Proverbs 31:10-29. Some translations begin this Scripture: "Who has seen a valiant woman?" How might you become a "valiant" person?


This meditation is found in A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver

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