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Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Today's Gospel: January 24, 2006

January 24, 2006
Tuesday in the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Feastday of St. Francis De Sales, bishop, doctor of the Church

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him,“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply,“Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mk 3:31-35

I liked this reading a lot. First, though it is very easy to understand this passage to be an insult to Jesus. This reference to Jesus' brothers and sisters commonly arises to attack Jesus and the Church. But, "The Truth will set you free" and the Truth has a name - Jesus Christ. The truth was that the phrase "brothers and sisters" was at that time the custom for referring to one's half-brothers and sisters or even cousins. It didn't literally mean "brothers and sisters" like the modern world would use the phrase.

What this passage refers to is the beautiful nature of God. For there is no greater truth than "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Through the beautiful paschal mystery of Jesus Christ's passion, death, and Resurrection we have been freed from the chains of sin and able to enter into glory. And, for those of us who answer Our Eucharistic Lord's calling, we are rewarded with life. A life so beautiful and grand because we become part of God's family in Heaven. We, the unworthy sinners that we are, can become part of the greatest union of love made possible through Our Lord's Resurrection.

But, this calling isn't complicated and impeded by unnecessary diversions. This journey in love is found only through the Sacred Heart of Our Savior, which opened on the Cross for us pouring out blood and water. As St. Francis de Sales - whose memorial is today - taught us, holiness consists of doing the will of God. And, St. Therese of Lisieux showed us that this personal journey to holiness can be accomplished through simple though profound love.

Some of us are parents, pastors, teachers, employees, but all of us are called to live lives of holiness. Parents are called to teach their children and raise them in Catholic fundamentals. Students are called to present written documents, essays, and learn. While employees are called to manually labor for hours at a time. Yet, all of us, no matter what our vocation, are called to the same holiness. We are called to unite our work, whatever it may be, to the One True Work of Jesus Christ - the Cross. Only then can any of our works ever amount to anything.

Let your whole life be as one prayer! Offer up your deeds, words, and thoughts with your best abilities to Christ. For holiness is not complicated; holiness, is doing the will of God. Only by searching our souls can we follow God's will. And, only through devotion we are called to ready ourselves for this profound love of Christ, who we receive in the Highest Beauty - the Holy Eucharist. "Devotion" as St. Francis described it, is the "spiritual agility to serve God with great ardor and readiness." And through our various walks of life, we become united in our search for Heaven. Without a fervor for Christ, we can not achieve holiness.

For Our Lord said, that "For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother," but He also said, "Whoever sins belongs to the devil." Ask yourselves, are you living each day of our life in complete union with Christ? If you say "no" then work harder each day and if you say "yes" then you deceive yourself. For no one is perfect on this earth, but all of us must seek to journey as close to perfection as we can.

Live for Christ!

Image Source: In the Public Domain

Sermon by Saint Augustine
(Sermo 25, 7-8:PL 46, 937-938)

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain, Title Unknown

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Saviour was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her – did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power. and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent – the most eminent – member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine – our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfils the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church”, I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.


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