By Sherry Kennedy Brownrigg
And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God..~John 1:34
My mother passed away on July 6, 2022. She was an incredible woman – full of the light of Christ, love for others, and a strong Catholic faith. She wasn’t young, and we knew she would likely die last year after she decided she would no longer treat her congestive heart failure.
Even though my mom’s death was somewhat anticipated, I’ve struggled ever since. As a Catholic, I know the promise of eternal life, and I know firsthand the mercy of God. She was the mother of a priest, my brother, and received the apostolic pardon three times in the last two months of her life. Knowing that she accepted death and looked forward to being with Christ, I can rest assured that she is with Him now.
I hadn’t realized how much of my identity and relationship with God was tied up with my relationship with my mom. She loved me with the kind of love that made you feel there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do. Her kindness and love for me and others modeled Jesus, and she taught me how to love in that same humble and selfless way. Since she died, however, I have felt adrift and rudderless, as if my life compass has suddenly been ripped away. The impact touches every part of my life.
In the months after her death, I focused on my mom incessantly – praying to her, talking to her at Mass, and crying out to her in desperation. One day, while at a retreat, I was lost in my desolation when suddenly my mom and Jesus were right there before me in my thoughts. She was strikingly beautiful and holding Jesus’ hand. “Sherry,” she said. “I love you and will always be with you, but you need to follow Him. Follow Jesus.” Stunned, I knew then that my mom was essentially telling me that’s it not and never has been about her – it’s about Him!
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist calls to mind his prophecy about Jesus as the long-awaited savior. Many people had begun to follow John and his teachings, and now his task was to turn the hearts and minds of those followers to Jesus. John isn’t and never has been the Lamb of God. Jesus had arrived at the Jordan River, and John could now publicly point to him as the One the world had been waiting for.
Like my mom, John the Baptist directed attention away from himself and onto Jesus, the Lamb of God who, out of love, took on our humanity, suffered, and died on the cross for us. My mom might have laughed in humility if I told her she had her own John the Baptist moment but isn’t that just what saints do? Both John the Baptist and my mother modeled what it means to be a follower of Christ and guided others in living that faith. And both knew it was always about Him.
Lord, thank you for giving me those people in my life who redirect me to You. Please help me to recognize that guidance and consistently follow you.
Call to Action
Think of the people in your life – living or deceased – who always point to Jesus. Notice how they love you and Jesus and take their advice. Follow Him!
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