A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 11:27-28)
While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Good News Reflection:
Introductory Prayer: Lord in the Gospel you condemn the cold and indolent servant who buried his talents emptying his life of all generosity and love (cf. Matthew 25:14-30). Help me to understand that God is love (1 John 4:8), and that love calls me to love! Raise me above the calculation and stinginess of my self-love. By attentively listening to your word in Scripture help me to understand and conform my heart to your heart ablaze with charity. May I diligently cooperate with your grace by dedicating my life to fulfill your word in all I think, say and do.
Petition:Lord teach me to fulfill your will and live out the attitudes, desires and virtues characteristic of your loving heart.
1. The Value of Hearing and Fulfilling the Will of God. The culture in the time of Our Lord was very much centered on the family. It is from this culture of life and family that this high praise for the mother of Jesus was proclaimed. Unfortunately today’s modern society is immersed in what is called “a culture of death.” It is a culture that frequently utters disdain for a woman’s fertility, the vocation of motherhood and home making. The “culture of death” thus patently neglects the immense and irreplaceable good motherhood is for society and the upbringing of its future generations. Often many women with more than a couple of children suffer verbal abuse from others who have bought into the promises and lies of the “culture of death.” Unfortunately some may begin to question the value of their sacrifices and generosity. But this is not the case with Our Lord. Here Our Lord is not disdaining the value of motherhood. Rather, as a jeweler would compare platinum to gold, Our Lord acknowleges the value behind this woman’s compliment yet contends that to hear and do God’s will is something of still greater value than the beauty and magnificence of a good mother.
2. Contemplative and Conquering Dimension. From an assiduous life of prayer we come to learn God’s will, listening to God’s most holy word. But we don’t need to leave prayer to do God’s will. Otherwise, how would we ever be able to fulfill Christ’s mandate to “pray always”? The disciple of Christ needs to forge the dual contemplative and conquering dimension of his prayer life. Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort (CCC 2725). The prayers of the Virgin Mary, in her Fiat and Magnificat, are characterized by the generous offering of her whole being in faith (CCC 2622). Jesus continues this pattern of prayer because “the prayer of Jesus involves a loving adherence to the will of the Father even to the cross and an absolute confidence in being heard”(CCC 2620).
3. A True Sign of Holiness. Mary is the supreme model of the receptive hearer. All contemplation should lead us to worthwhile action; contemplation itself is imperfect and indeed inauthentic if there is no active and diligent carry out the initiatives God gives in prayer. On the other hand, all action, to avoid being rash or superficial should be preceded and accompanied by prudence and reflection. In the life of a Christian these two elements should never be separated. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it. Am I enlightened to make a difference in the world around me from the time I spend in prayer and reading the Scriptures? Do I make resolutions for change in my own behavior with the intention of making it reflect the life and attitudes of Christ? Do I need to develop the relationships and teamwork I have with others so that they better reflect Christian attitudes and behavior?
Dialogue with Christ:Lord, how much you loved your mother Mary! Your grace not only preserved her from sin but also assisted her to conform perfectly to your plan for her. Her brilliance was that you always possessed her heart. And if you loved Mary as your Mother, how much more you loved her and lavished blessings on her because she heard the Word of God and observed it! Teach me to live as Mary lived though I am a sinner. Do not leave me in my misery, but restore me to your grace that I may give you due honor and glory in my daily life and example.
Resolution: I will renew my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by saying the Rosary each day this week with greater attention, contemplating Mary’s virtuous response of faith to the mysteries of Christ in her life. I will then remind myself throughout the day how I must imitate Mary in that virtue I contemplated.
Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC