RATHER, BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEP IT. Jesus habitually, and in a variety of ways, raises the mental and spiritual horizons of his hearers whether in private or in public. This is a major characteristic of his prophetic role. He came not only to fulfill the law but also the prophets. He exemplifies in himself to the fullest degree, in fact, this function of prophecy, to instill in the people a sense for recognizing in all events the workings out of God's plan for his chosen people. In this instance, when a woman in the audience is so taken by the charm and holiness of his person that she pronounces his mother highly blessed, his immediate reaction is to raise the perspective to the plane of faith. Only one woman had the grace and happiness of being his mother according to the flesh- and a surpassingly great privilege that was and remains. However, this physical motherhood is in itself a lesser gift than that which is offered to every woman and man, namely, that of giving entry to the word of God into the heart by faith.
As we hear these words from the lips of our Lord today we are being invited to allow them to challenge us to examine our attitude to the word of God and to the effects of faith. Do we believe our Lord is to be taken literally here? Does he mean what he states so categorically? Is there a kind of relation established with him and so with his heavenly Father which, in its dignity and effects is more elevated and efficacious than the grace of physical motherhood that we honor in Mary, the mother of God? Who would dare to maintain that we are not to take this teaching at its face value? This does not imply that any one can surpass Mary's intimacy with her son and with the Father, to be sure, for, as the great theologians of the Church saw so clearly, Mary conceived our Lord by her faith in the message of the angel. Had she not placed her trusting faith in his words, which she accepted as truly the words of God, she would not have become the mother of Jesus.
What we are told here is that we can share that same dignity at the level that has supreme importance, namely, within the divine, eternal plan of salvation. Faith opens the door to the kingdom of God. A trusting faith that leads to a total surrender of the whole self to God's will, in the service of his plan and for the sake of his kingdom is not only the door to life, it is the way that carries one into the very source of eternal life. Every area of our human condition is to be integrated into this living faith in God's word and so to be made to contribute to his glory through the realization of his plan for our human family. Faith then becomes an instrument of transformation and communion with God the Father in his son, Jesus.
At this Eucharist we celebrate this communion and strive to participate more ardently and with enhanced awareness in this process of inner formation according to the image of the Son of God who gives himself to us now as he once gave himself for us on the cross. Each of us, whatever his or her state in life, is invited by these words of Jesus to join our self to him in this cause. May the grace of this sacrament of the Eucharist and of the word received here at the altar serve to strength our faith and our resolve to live faithfully our commitment to the Lord this day and all the days of our life until we meet with him face to face in the presence of God our loving Father.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger</P>
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