The girl who knew how to “love one another”

h pray candle

The shot in the arm my congregation needed this Mother’s Day.

I went to a very traditional Catholic mass featuring the church’s Latin choir in downtown Denver this morning. Much of the mass felt somber, as if people had partied too much last night and were going to church out of duty instead of love. Even the priest’s amazing homily extolling God’s endless supply of love did little to awaken the attendees. Most responses to the prayers were muddled, and it was hard for me to keep my head in the game.

A cute little girl, about 7 years old, with Down syndrome squirmed in the seats just a few rows in front of me while her mother patiently tried to calm her fidgeting. At communion, her daughter ran up to the priest to get a blessing. She raced back down the aisle while the rest of her family stood at the altar. Her mother ran after her and brought her back to the pew, looking exhausted. Her daughter gave her a big hug and then went back to her pew to stick her hand out, as if to give a “high five” to everyone in that church who passed by her seat. One by one, every single person who walked by touched her hand. Young and old, rich and homeless grew giant smiles as their hands made contact with the little girl and saw her smile. In the most pure-hearted sense, every person who passed by that girl felt her love. She accomplished something that even the priest couldn’t accomplish, despite his well-thought out and inspiring homily. She lived the gospel message. It’s amazing to me that a girl who probably barely even understood what was being discussed at church that day knew how to “love one another” more naturally than anyone else in that church.

Despite the warm mood, I suddenly had tears rolling down my face as I realized what a beautiful scene it was. I looked at that little girl and realized that 90% of beautiful souls like her never even survive their time in the womb because of “advanced” testing that identifies anomalies like hers before people like her are born. How sad that we as this sophisticated society who pride ourselves on human rights and ending poverty have deemed that most people like her aren’t worthy of this world. It made me wonder how much more joy and light would be in this world if the other 90% were around us today. How many more smiles would there be? How much more love would be in this world if those who shared her disability were alive today?

This Mother’s Day, I first salute my own mom, who raised my sister and me while also working over twenty years, patiently teaching those with disabilities. I also salute all those moms who make that amazing choice to raise a child in this world despite his or her perceived imperfections. Women and especially mothers make this world a much more loving place.

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