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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 12, 46-50

He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly his mother and his brothers were standing outside and were anxious to have a word with him.

But to the man who told him this Jesus replied, 'Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?'

And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers.

Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It is an episode reported by all the Synoptics, despite the problems it seems to raise. Jesus is speaking to the crowd when his mother and his brothers arrive and seek to meet him. The crowd which surrounds him hinders the relatives from getting near him. The evangelist notes that the relatives remained "outside;" they are not among those who were listening to him. It is an observation not so much spatial as about disposition to listen. Thus it occurs with those who feel they are so "related" to Jesus, i.e., members of the institution, that they no longer feel the need to listen to the Word of God, of no longer needing to be helped. To those who tell Jesus that outside are his mother and brothers waiting for him, he responds in a surprising way. He says that his mother and his relatives are those who listen to him, precisely those who are "inside" in order to hear the preaching of the Gospel. For a world, like the Jewish one, which considered blood relations a determining factor for religious membership, this lack of acknowledgement of relatives was truly disconcerting. Jesus in truth wanted to clearly indicate his new family, which is the one made up of his disciples, of those who follow him, of those who trust him. Ties of blood or of the clan, the bond of nation of homeland, cultural or racial links, are actually not decisive for the kingdom of God. Rather, at times they are occasions for closing up and not of opening to others. Such relations, no matter how deep they are, should in any case be pervaded by the Word of God which prunes and purifies them so that they are not the occasion of closure and struggle, but rather become fraternal. The Word of God purifies "natural" relations and recreates them through the work of the Spirit poured out in our hearts. From listening to the Word of God is born a new family, much broader and firmer than the natural one. Its bonds are not founded on ourselves but n the Word of God. The Christian community, for those who are alone, poor, abandoned, afflicted, persecuted, is often the only family who welcomes and takes care of them, and it is called to be an example of fraternal life for everyone.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord