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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

Luke 8, 19-21

His mother and his brothers came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.

He was told, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.'

But he said in answer, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist Luke poses this episode immediately after the parable of the Sower and of the lamp which must make light. This is not random. He wants, in fact, to highlight the centrality of listening to the Word of God in the life of the Church and of every Christian community. The family of Jesus is composed of whoever listens to him and puts in practice his word. We could say that it is an alternative family, not in the sense of opposing blood bonds but that which poses at the base of all bonds, the very bond with Jesus which renders all of the others stronger and more solid. Luke narrates that Jesus’ relatives—perhaps to take him away from the life he had undertaken which caused not a few inconveniences to the whole set of relatives—decide to look for him to dissuade him or in any case to stop his actions. When they reach the place where Jesus was, they see that he is surrounded by a lot of people, so many as to hinder them from getting close. So they tell one of those present to tell the young rabbi that his mothers and brothers are waiting to see him outside. Not without meaning is the fact that the evangelist notes that the relatives wait “outside” compared with those who are “inside” listening to the Teacher. This is not just in reference to location. There is a division between those outside who are not listening and those inside who are. Alerted of the presence of relatives, Jesus responds that his true family is made up of those that are inside, next to him to listen. Those who are “outside”, even if relatives by blood, are not part of his family. The Gospel, in fact, creates a new family, not made of natural bonds but those much more solid which are the fruit of the Spirit’s action. To be a part of this family requires listening to the Gospel and the commitment to put it into practice. The mother of Jesus, Mary, is an example for everyone. She was the first to believe in the Word of God, communicated to her by the angel, as Luke writes: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” There is not at all any scorn for family bonds. Just the opposite; the presence of May shows that faith—which she had for her son—enriches the bonds of flesh, including—obviously—those of the family. Knowing Mary’s faith, Elizabeth pronounces upon her the first beatitude of the Gospel, “Blessed are you who have believed in the fulfilment of what the Lord told to you.” Mary remains the first of all believers, and also the mother of the Church, as Paul VI called her during the Second Vatican Council. This Gospel passage reminds us of the family dimension of salvation. Yes, the Lord does not save people individually, but gathering them in one family, the family of disciples who listen to his Word.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord