Receptive to God’s Word and Detachment

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The WORD in other words (2016) by Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD (USC, Cebu City)

In today’s gospel Jesus encountered his mother and brothers i.e. his immediate cousins and relatives.  Jesus as a brilliant Rabbi took this occasion to teach an important lesson to his disciples and the crowd around him.

First, when he said: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word and act on it”. Jesus did not repudiate his mother and brothers but acknowledged the importance of family and blood relationship.  He made faithfulness to the Word as a new basis for this relationship, giving examples of his Mother and brothers as good listeners and actors of the word of God worthy of emulation. 

Mary did not only listen well to God but really did his will when she said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:38)  

With humility and openness we can become receptive to God’s word. We become a mother, brother or sister to Jesus when we attentively listen to his word and act on it.

Second, when Jesus started his public ministry, he literally left Nazareth, his home.  He detached himself from his mother, cousins and relatives to be completely focused on his Father’s business:  to proclaim God’s Kingdom; bring back the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and do his Father’s will i.e. to take the suffering servant’s role.  

The Gospel challenges us to be detached from whatever prevents us from fully following Jesus:  money, power, prestige and pleasures. I myself find detachment difficult. The temptation to seek recognition and appreciation, be popular and successful, be materialistic and powerful is always there.  

It is only by having the spirit and the heart of Christ that we can let go of all these and consequently be committed to doing his will.  As Prov 21:3 says:  “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” 

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