Led by the Spirit
Gospel Reflection for Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you."
He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it."
- Lk 8:19-21
Today’s Gospel is a short one! However, it is a verse that has caused a good deal of controversy. Many Protestants claim that by this statement, our Lord was saying that the Blessed Virgin Mary is no more special than anyone else who follows His teaching. However, this is not the case. From the earliest Christians, the Church has taught that the Mother of God is a model for all Christians. It was she whose fiat, or yes to God in giving birth to Jesus brought salvation into the world. She was truly the first person to believe in Jesus as God. She was His most devoted follower who loved Him more than anyone. No, our Lord was certainly not demeaning his Blessed Mother. He was telling us that all who love Him, believe in Him and live in accord with His will and teachings as did the Blessed Virgin Mary could also be His family.
Christians are brothers and sister in Christ. We are part of the Family of God. Saint Paul made this clear in Romans:
For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.
This is a radical concept that was very different from the Jewish understanding of the relationship of man to God; had that not been so, they would have been able to accept the teachings of Christ. It was also very different from pagan beliefs about God and the doctrine that would be developed by Islam. While other religions may recognize the creator of the universe as a kind of father to all creation, only Jesus was both so bold and truthful as to explain that He is the eternal Son of God, a member of the Holy Trinity. But what is more astounding is His teaching that through the Holy Sacraments a Christian may become both His brother or sister and a living member of His Body, with the hope of sharing in His eternal divinity!
Through Jesus, especially the most humble and simple man or woman, has God as Father. We also have Mary as our mother. We have the saints as our brothers and sisters, as well as all living Christians. We have incredible resources of countless holy family members to pray and intercede for use. We also have the duty to pray for our living Christian family and those in purgatory. Even those who have fallen asleep are living members of the Body of Christ. Next month is devoted to the Rosary. Let us honor our Mother with renewed devotion, because Jesus comes to all through Mary, and imitate her faithful holiness.
Recall the letters of Saint Ignatius to Saint John, the Apostle:
Ignatius, and the brethren who are with him, to John the holy presbyter.
We are deeply grieved at thy delay in strengthening us by thy addresses and consolations. If thy absence be prolonged, it will disappoint many of us. Hasten then to come, for we believe that it is expedient. There are also many of our women here, who are desirous to see Mary [the mother] of Jesus, and wish day by day to run off from us to you, that they may meet with her, and touch those breasts of hers which nourished the Lord Jesus, and may inquire of her respecting some rather secret matters. But Salome also, [the daughter of Anna,] whom thou lovest, who stayed with her five months at Jerusalem, and some other well-known persons, relate that she is full of all graces and all virtues, after the manner of a virgin, fruitful in virtue and grace. And, as they report, she is cheerful in persecutions and afflictions, free from murmuring in the midst of penury and want, grateful to those that injure her, and rejoices when exposed to troubles: she sympathizes with the wretched and the afflicted as sharing in their afflictions, and is not slow to come to their assistance. Moreover, she shines forth gloriously as contending in the fight of faith against the pernicious conflicts of vicious principles or conduct. She is the lady of our new religion and repentance, and the handmaid among the faithful of all works of piety. She is indeed devoted to the humble, and she humbles herself more devotedly than the devoted, and is wonderfully magnified by all, while at the same time she suffers detraction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Besides these points, many relate to us numerous other things regarding her. We do not, however, go so far as to believe all in every particular; nor do we mention such to thee. But, as we are informed by those who are worthy of credit, there is in Mary the mother of Jesus an angelic purity of nature allied with the nature of humanity. And such reports as these have greatly excited our emotions, and urge us eagerly to desire a sight of this (if it be lawful so to speak) heavenly prodigy and most sacred marvel. But do thou in haste comply with this our desire; and fare thou well. Amen.
His friend Ignatius to John the holy presbyter.
If thou wilt give me leave, I desire to go up to Jerusalem, and see the faithful saints who are there, especially Mary the mother, whom they report to be an object of admiration and of affection to all. For who would not rejoice to behold and to address her who bore the true God from her own womb, provided he is a friend of our faith and religion? And in like manner [I desire to see] the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be very like Christ Jesus in appearance, in life, and in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb. They say that, if I see him, I see also Jesus Himself, as to all the features and aspect of His body. Moreover, [I desire to see] the other saints, both male and female. Alas! why do I delay? Why am I kept back? Kind teacher, bid me hasten [to fulfil my wish], and fare thou well. Amen.
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is Available in paperback on Amazon:
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic