Pushy Mum (and Dad) Syndrome

We are all familiar with Pushy Mum Syndrome: the mother whose energies are entirely devoted to advancing her child’s chances in life. All her ugly ducklings are swans, if only the world would see; and how hard she works to make sure the world does see! Pushy Dad Syndrome also exists but can be harder on the little chip off the old block, who is expected to be everything his father never was — and more. I wonder whether Mr and Mrs Zebedee would recognize themselves in that description, the pushiness and the fiery temper being among their traits passed on to their sons. When the mother of James and John approached Jesus to ask a special place in the Kingdom for her sons, I daresay both parents justified their ambition by claiming it was not for themselves. They were only interested in the good of their children. The put-down Mrs Zebedee received must have delighted the other disciples, though they may have shivered at what Jesus had to say about servanthood (Matthew 20.17–28).

Today’s gospel alerts us to two things most of us would rather not think about: the way in which we can deceive ourselves about our true motives — doing things for the good of others is surely irreproachable — and our reluctance to embrace the sacrifice that following Jesus necessarily involves. Scrutinising our own motives isn’t easy and often requires someone else to show us what we would rather not see. It can be painful, but we need to remember that truth is ultimately not only freeing but healing, too. As to sacrifice, we are surely far enough into Lent for everyone to realise that it is not the little sacrifices we take on ourselves that count, but the unexpected ones God sends us that matter. If that sounds rather severe on this lovely spring morning, there is something more we could reflect on. God desires only what is best for us, genuinely so. In him there is no trace of Pushy Mum or Pushy Dad, only infinite love and goodness.


St Andrew’s Day 2013

Today is the end of the liturgical year, the end of the month we set aside for praying in a special way for the dead. It is a bluff, gruff kind of day, cold and a little bleak. It is also the feast of St Andrew, and in Scotland a sad day as people come to terms with the helicopter accident which has injured many in Glasgow. We can see it as a hinge between two times, one that looks back and one that looks forward, a kind of hiatus between death and life. It has an almost ‘Holy Saturday’ quality about it; and just as we spend Holy Week in silence and recollection so now, as Ordinary Time passes into Advent, we shall have three days of profound silence here at the monastery. It won’t be an empty silence, nor will it be particularly penitential (I hope), though it will have its longeurs. It will be a time when we try to listen more intently to the voice of the Lord calling us to follow. Each of us must, in our own way, step out into the deep, sure of only one thing (and sometimes perhaps, not even of that): the Lord who calls desires to give us life in all its fullness. We are fee to accept or reject his invitation. What we cannot do is put off our answer to an uncertain future. We must decide now.

While the community is in retreat, blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses will all be automated (i.e. scheduled in advance) and we won’t be responding to any emails or comments. We shall hold all of you in prayer. Please pray for us, too.