Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Help: "You kind, you smart, you important." - Feast of Mary Mother of God

There’s a beautiful scene in “The Help” where the maid, Aibileen, takes Mae Mobley, a child who has just been criticized by her mother, into her arms and encourages her. 
“Ever afternoon, me and Baby Girl set in the rocking chair before her nap.  Ever afternoon, I tell her: You Kind, you smart, you important.  But she growing up and I know, soon, them few words ain’t  gone be enough.”

These are the words Aibileen speaks to the two year old child Mae Mobley every day.   In “The Help” (Which was a bestselling novel and blockbuster movie now on DVD), Aibileen is a third-generation house maid who has raised over 17 white children.  She has seen them abused and neglected and often been more of a mother to the children then their real mothers ever were. 

She decides with Mae Mobley that from now on, every day she is going to speak these words of affirmation over and over to Mae Mobley so that no matter what her mother calls her, or how she is treated, she will come to realize that she is “kind, smart, important.” 

These words of affirmation are really a blessing.  These simple words spoken with love help Mae Mobley know that she is good. 

As we celebrate today the Feast of Mary Mother of God it is important that we realize the power of a blessing.  We bless Mary and Jesus every time we say the Hail Mary: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” 

What does this mean “to bless?”  When the priest gives the blessing at the end of mass it is also known as a benediction.  This comes from the Latin “Benedicere”:  Bene (well or good) and dicere (to speak).  Benediction literally means to speak well of or to say something good.  So to bless someone really means to say something good about them, to speak of their goodness. 

How often do we do this?  How often do we speak well of people?  How often do we bless those we love?  Think about it in your own life.  Do you have more of a tendency to bless or to curse?  How do you speak to the people in your life? 

We hear from the Book of Numbers:

This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!

These words are echoed in the Hail Mary and echoed by Aibileen in “The Help.” 
“The Help” comes to an end, and I won’t tell you why, but  Aibileen is fired from her job and has to leave.  Mae is five is now five years old, in school, and old enough to beg Aibileen to stay. 

Please don’t leave, Aibee,” she say, starting to cry again.
“I got to, baby, I am so sorry.”   And that’s when I start to cry.  I don’t want to, just gone make it worse for her, but I can’t stop.

“Why? Why don’t you want to see me anymore?  Are you going to take care of another little girl?”  Her forehead is all wrinkled up, just like when her mama fuss at her.  Law, I fell like my heart’s gone bleed to death.

I take her face in my hands, feeling the scary heat coming off her cheeks.  “No, baby, that’s not the reason.  I don’t want a leave you, but…”  How do I put this?  I can’t tell her I’m fired, I don’t want her to blame her mama and make it worse between em.  “It’s time for me to retire.  You my last little girl,” I say, because this is the truth, it just ain’t by my own choosing.

I let her cry a minute on my chest and then I take her face into my hands again.  I take a deep breath and I tell her to do the same.

“Baby Girl,” I say.  “I need you to remember everything I told you.  Do you remember what I told you?”
She still crying steady, but the hiccups is gone.  “To wipe my bottom good when I’m done?”
“No, baby, the other.  About who you are.”

I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine.  Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years.  And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be.  A flash from the future.  She is tall and straight.  She is proud.  She got a better haircut.  And she is remembering the words I put in her head.  Remembering as a full-grown woman.

And then she say it, just like I need her to.  “You is kind,” she say, “you is smart.  You is important.”
“Oh Law.”  I hug her hot little body to me.  I feel like she done just give me a gift.  “Thank you, Baby Girl.”

“You’re welcome,” she say, like I taught her to.  But then she lay her head on my shoulder and we cry like that awhile.”

Mae Mobley remembers the words that Aibileen put in her head.  We remember the words that people speak to us.  These words form and shape us from the time that we are a child. 

What are the words that you put into your children’s heads?  Your wives heads?  Your husbands heads?  Your friends?  Your employees? 

Mae Mobley is called a lot of things by the people that are supposed to love her, but it is only Aibileen who blesses her every day “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” 

This could be a wonderful model for all of us.  Remember that the words you speak will be remembered.  Take time every day to bless the people in your life. 

Just as the Shepherds blessed the new born child in the manger “All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

As the Shepherds spoke these words to Mary and she reflects on them in her heart, and as Mae Mobley remembered the words of blessing from Aibileen “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.”  May your words be a blessing to others that they may know of their goodness and reflect on your blessing in their heart. 


  1. Amiga de El SalvadorDecember 31, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    That novel was genius! Thank you for including it in your homily : )

  2. Great Homily, Fr. Michael - as always! New Year blessings to you and all those you love. (That should just about cover everybody!)


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