The Praise Jesus Gives His Mother and Wants to Give Us, 27th Saturday (I), October 14, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Saturday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Callixtus, Pope and Martyr
100th Anniversary of the birth of Joseph Emile Landry, my grandfather (1917-1986)Today
October 14, 2017
Joel 4:12-21, Ps 97, Lk 11:27-28

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • In today’s Gospel, an anonymous woman from the crowd sought to praise Jesus’ mother Mary. “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed!,” she called out. If any womb was blessed, it was the immaculate womb of Mary of Nazareth that housed for nine months the Creator and Savior of the world. If any breasts were blessed, it would have been those who nursed and fed the one who gives us each day our daily bread. But Jesus wasn’t going to limit the praise of the mother whom he daily honored to her inimitable physical bonds to the Son of God made man.
  • He replied to the woman by highlighting a far greater source of blessing, something that each and every one of us not only can emulate but is called to emulate: “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” The profoundest source of Mary’s beatitude was her faithful listening and response to God in her life. St. Athanasius described that before Mary had ever conceived the Word of God in her womb, she had already conceived Him in her heart through faith. So many medieval depictions of the Annunciation and the miraculous virginal conception of Jesus in the Incarnation show the Holy Spirit entering through Mary’s ears, to highlight just this faith. In a parallel scene, when Mary had come to see him together with many of his cousins from Nazareth, they told Jesus inside the crowded house where he was teaching and healing that his mother and relatives were outside waiting for him. Taking advantage of the teaching moment, he replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt 12:46-50). Mary is the paradigm of all those who do the will of God the Father, who hear what he asks and who act on it. To be a true brother or sister of Jesus in the family he came from heaven to earth to found, it’s not really enough just to be baptized, although that’s an essential start. We also have to listen to him as he describes for us the will of God and then, just as he did, say, mean and lovingly do the words “Thy will be done!” Mary is the foremost of all of those who are doers of the word, and that’s the source of her and all true blessedness.
  • This day after the centenary of the last of the Fatima apparitions is an opportunity for us to ponder Mary in this way and to learn from her. In asking us and the three shepherd children to pray for the conversion of sinners, she is asking us to share in her prayer, and the prayer of the whole Church, to “forgive us our sins” and “deliver us from evil.” In asking us to pray the Rosary, she’s inviting us into her school, to learn how to look at her Son and the world through the eyes of her heart. In summoning us to consecration to her heart, she’s trying to form in us an obedient heart, a heart that treasures the word of God and makes that word the texture of our interior, a heart that is pure and sees God, a heart that mourns over others suffering, a heart that courageously loves to the point of pouring itself out for others. She loved us so much that, coming down from heaven with God’s permission, she summoned us, and through us summoned others, to blessedness by helping us to imitate her.
  • In today’s first reading, we see this way of beatitude contrasted with another way of life. It’s about the “day of the Lord,” which points not only to the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah but also to his second coming and the judgment that comes with it. There will be vats overflowing with malice, stars and moon darkened, heavens and earth quaking, on one side, with desert and waste for “Edom” and “Egypt.” On the other, there will be the Lord, his moly mountain, dripping new wine and flowing with milk, with overflowing channels of water. It will be a place of life. The first path is for ones who refuse to listen to the Word of God or who only half-listen, letting it slip through the other ear as they go about and do as they please. The second is for those who, like Mary, hear inwardly and do. Mary, in Fatima, was reminding us that Hell is real, and that the path to the kingdom is a choice to behave differently from all those who on the broad road leading to perdition. With maternal life, she calls us to follow her, as she follows her Son.
  • Today the anonymous woman praised Mary for her physical relationship to Jesus, for her immaculate womb that housed him for nine months, for the breasts that nursed him for longer. In a similar way people could praise us for our tongues and throats and digestive tracts who will soon be touched by the same body, blood, soul and divinity of the blessed Fruit of Mary’s womb. But Jesus wants to praise us for something far greater, for our truly being his brother, son or daughter of his Father, and even in some mysterious way his mother, conceiving him within through our ears, and becoming so pregnant with him that we have to “give him to the light.” He wants to say of us, together with his mother, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and do it.” May we respond to Mary’s intercession to be included in that praise!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 JL 4:12-21

Thus says the LORD:
Let the nations bestir themselves and come up
to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there will I sit in judgment
upon all the neighboring nations.

Apply the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe;
Come and tread,
for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow,
for great is their malice.
Crowd upon crowd
in the valley of decision;
For near is the day of the LORD
in the valley of decision.
Sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars withhold their brightness.
The LORD roars from Zion,
and from Jerusalem raises his voice;
The heavens and the earth quake,
but the LORD is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the children of Israel.

Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall pass through her no more.
And then, on that day,
the mountains shall drip new wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk;
And the channels of Judah
shall flow with water:
A fountain shall issue from the house of the LORD,
to water the Valley of Shittim.
Egypt shall be a waste,
and Edom a desert waste,
Because of violence done to the people of Judah,
because they shed innocent blood in their land.
But Judah shall abide forever,
and Jerusalem for all generations.
I will avenge their blood,
and not leave it unpunished.
The LORD dwells in Zion.

Responsorial Psalm PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12

R. (12a) 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!

Alleluia LK 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 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.”