When I ministered in a parish, it was wonderful to see children on Mother’s Day. They are more affectionate than usual on this day. I remember I said to one little boy, “What did you give your Mom today?” He was silent. “A card?” He shook his head. “Flowers?” “No.” “Breakfast in bed?” “What then?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “Lots of hugs and kisses.” What a lucky Mom. In this same parish a week before Mothers’ Day, the children of the parish came together in the grove, in front of church, for what our Children’s Faith Formation Director, called “Passport to Jerusalem.” The children had a wonderful time making bricks and sandals, sitting by the well talking to the woman and Jesus, carrying a sick man on a litter. They re-enacted in their own beautiful and pure way events touching Jesus’ life of ministry. I asked one little girl who was her favorite. “The beggar,” she said. “Did you give him a penny?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied tenderly, “but I also gave him a hug and a kiss.”
A few years ago there was a little book entitled: “Children’s Letters to God? “ Here’s one of my favorite children’s letters.
My best movie is “Gone in the Winds.” Did you ever see it? Do you ever see our pictures? Most have too much war and sex. But not “Gone in the Winds.” Oh, there are hugs and kisses. But they’re OK, right?
Tracy, age 9.
John’s Gospel (14:15-21) describes a very touching moment in the life of Jesus. Jesus knows that there is not much time before he has to leave his disciples. They have been through so much together. You do not spend three years with the same people, day in and day out, living closely, centered around ministry, without feelings of tenderness and affection. He says to them, “I can’t leave you alone. I will not leave you alone. You mean too much to me. I have a gift to share with you. I need to give you this gift. You are gifted already, of course. You are God’s children. You possess a dignity nothing can take away. You yourself can’t take it away. It is your humanity. Nevertheless, I have another gift to give you. I will ask God to give it to you. It is even more special. You will learn from it and will be inspired by it. It will be with you always.” What is the gift he wants to give them? What is the gift he longs with all his heart to give every woman and man and child? What is the gift he wants to give you? What more is there than to be God’s child? Hugs and kisses. That is who he is. That is what he gives. Affection itself. Call it if you will the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus; it is his Spirit. Itis his life; his hopes; his dreams. “They are yours now,” he says. “I’m one with you, in a constant embrace.” Hugs and kisses. At birth God gives us our humanity. We enter this world as God’s child. But at baptism Jesus pours out upon us his Spirit. That Spirit is the tender affection of a Christ, a Lord, who loves us and lives in us. The Holy Spirit is the hugs and kisses of a loving Lord.
Humanity and affection. Humanity: the lived awareness that I am God’s child and that every woman and man and child on this planet is God’s child. Affection: the lived awareness that I am embraced – hugged and kissed – by the living Spirit of Jesus Christ. That is the faith we share; the giftedness we celebrate, when we gather as a people, around his word and table.
A final letter to God.
“Dear God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit,
My family has moved around since I was 4. It’s nice to know that there is someone like you who is always there with us through the years. Hugs and kisses.
Kim. I’m 10.
David J. McBriar, O.F.M.