September 23, 2014

The Gospel Today

Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Luke 8: 19-21

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.”

Reflection (Sem. Eric Terrel):

Greatness has the power to attract. When we encounter a great person, we cannot deny the fact that there is a part of us that would like to have a connection, a commonality or a shared experience with such person. I remember one time when I got the chance to have an interaction with His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle during the visit of our seminary community in the Archbishop’s residence. I recalled myself telling the Cardinal that I was also an alumnus of the high school he also attended, which is St. Andrew’s High School located in Parañaque. Well, some people would even claim that they are relatives of the good Cardinal even though the latter has not heard about them long before. This is the Cardinal, how much more if the person concerned is God? How many would want to claim about their family ties with Him?

In the Gospel narrative, we hear Jesus as He clarifies what does it really mean to belong to the family of God. He says, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” In other words, one can only be truly considered as a member of God’s family by having an attitude of receptivity and obedience towards the life-giving word of God. Listening to the word of God and obeying His will which can be discerned by pondering on the word are inseparable actions. We cannot claim that we are good listeners of the message of God if we are not obedient to Him who continues to speak to us about the value of total love for God and neighbor, forgiveness of one’s enemies, dependence on God’s graciousness and detachment from material things, accolades, vanity and many others for the purpose of greater freedom for the love and service of God. Hearing God’s word is very pleasing especially as we marvel about the truth of what we have just heard. We might even identify ourselves with King Herod who liked to hear the words of St. John the Baptist but eventually fell short as the former continued his immoral union with Herodias, his brother’s wife. Obeying the word of God is both very challenging and difficult because it necessitates a decision of setting aside our personal interests, desires and agendas in order to pursue a greater value that is oriented to what is good, truthful and beautiful based on God’s standards, not man’s. It is only difficult in the beginning. But in reality, doing the will of God does not destroy our freedom. Rather, it perfects our freedom because the more we follow God, the more we become like Him specifically Jesus, the Obedient and Loving Son of God. To be like Jesus – there is no identification greater than that.

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