Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blessed Are They Who Hear The Word Of God And Keep It!

First Reading
Joel 4:12-21

Thus says the LORD: "Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.

Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!"

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

"Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her. "In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the Valley of Shittim. Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. Judah shall abide forever and Jerusalem through all generations. I will avenge their blood, and not leave it unpunished. The LORD dwells in Zion!

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 97

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

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 keep it.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

The woman in the crowd is deeply impressed with Jesus, and his ability to hold the attention of the crowd with his healing and his story telling. She then does the most natural thing in the world: she thinks of how proud his mother must be to have raised a boy who became such a man, and she congratulates the son by blessing the mother with a beatitude: “Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”

When Jesus answers -- “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” – it may sound at first as if he is deflecting the complement to his mother by using it to make his own point, as if he had said that anyone who does God’s will is greater than his mother. In fact, he is honoring his mother even more highly. He is saying, in effect, “Greater even than mothering me, Mary has heard the word of God and kept it.”

It might help to recall that the daily prayer of the Jews was, and still is, the Shema (“Hear!”) which takes its name from the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

The entire covenant between God and his people could be summarized in the phrase: “to hear the word of God and keep it.” Mary exemplifies that sort of deep hearing – a total response to the word of God expressed in the Torah. It was the readiness of that deep hearing which enabled her to become his mother to begin with.

Two chapters earlier in Luke’s Gospel, we find the vision of the transfiguration, where Peter, James and John first see and hear Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets who interpreted God’s word to Israel), speaking with Jesus. Then these two disappear, and Jesus is left standing alone, when the voice of the Father is heard, “This is my beloved son. Hear him!”

For, Jesus is the Word of God, made flesh and dwelling among us. We imitate Mary by hearing Jesus and following him. That is what these daily reflections are all about.

Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it!

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Thanks for the interpretation of Jesus's words. I did think it was the first interpretation, did not think about the second. I love being educated!