“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Such are the words from the African American maid Aibileen to the white child Mae Mobley Leefolt in Kathryn Stockett’s best seller, The Help. Possessed of plain looks and seemingly slow ways, little Mae Mobley, was such a disappointment to her socially upward mother, Elizabeth. But each and every day, Aibileen spoke those words of encouragement to Mae Mobley. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” When Mae Mobley is old enough to speak, it becomes a triple affirmation she repeats and begins to grow into.
Maybe when it comes to living as children of God, we need to be reminded of who we are. And so our Scriptures offer us words of affirmation: “You are filled with the Holy Spirit.” “You are loved” “You are my friends”
“You are filled with the Holy Spirit.” It did not matter whether you were one of Jesus’ Jewish followers or a Roman centurion like Cornelius – no one was outside God’s concern. Even though Peter doesn’t yet fully comprehend the significance, scope or implications of God’s concern, he is beginning to understand that in being filled with God’s Spirit, he too is to cast wide his arms of welcome in order to enfold and hold close all peoples, regardless of origin, that they too would accept the gifts of the Spirit of God. And then encourage them, even when they are slow to begin to live in the Spirit, to remind them: We are filled with the Holy Spirit.
“You are loved” So proclaims our second reading. It proclaims this message because God is love and can do no other. So in those moments we feel unloved, or in those moments we encounter someone who is a challenge to us – and for us to love – we are to remember that we have a greater capacity for love than we know. We are loved with a divine love that encourages us to expand our hearts, broaden our horizons, and to allow the love God has for us, to pour through our lives into the lives of others. We are loved.
“You are my friends” So proclaims the Gospel. We are no longer inanimate tools in the hands of the master. We are not slaves; we are not servants called to do God’s bidding without a single clue as to why. We are as though best friends forever, friends who share everything. And Jesus has told us everything He has heard from the Father: that we are to love one another because we are his friends. Friends freed from enslavement to sin, friends chosen, loved, and asked one thing – bear the fruit of love – out there in the world.
This triple affirmation: You are filled with the Holy Spirit, You are loved, You are my friends – this can’t remain with just ourselves. It has to be so believed, so deeply rooted within us, that it can not end with ourselves. We have to remind everyone that they too filled, love and befriended by an all embracing God.
Everyday Aibileen affirmed Mae Mobley: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” And Mae Mobley came to know the truth about herself. Near the end of the book, Mae Mobley turns to the maid Aibileen, and says, “Aibee, you’re my real mama.”
St Francis wrote to his brother and reminded them that they were called to be like Aibileen, mothers who gave birth to Christ into the world when they loved, embraced, proclaimed God’s love into the lives of others.
On this day when we celebrate our Mothers, and all the women who reminded us we were kind, smart and important –
May we imitate Peter, all the Apostles and St Francis and all the saints who reminded people that “You are filled with the Holy Spirit.” “You are loved” “You are my friends” encouraging them to live the good news of salvation.
And one day, …one day…we may hear those we have affirmed and reminded them about their true self… just maybe we will hear them say, “Jesus, you’re my real Lord and Savior.”