Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Africa.


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

Mark 3,31-35

Now his mother and his brothers arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, 'Look, your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.' He replied, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' And looking at those sitting in a circle round him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person 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

The evangelist Mark continues to show Jesus in a house, surrounded by large crowds. While he is speaking, his relatives arrive with Mary. The evangelist does not say the reason for their visit. But it is not hard to imagine that they were probably worried about Jesus' "exaggerated" behaviours or even because they knew that the Pharisees were watching him, so much so that some had come from Jerusalem. Either way, they wanted to see him and talk to him. Tired perhaps from the trip - they came from Nazareth - they did not wait for Jesus to finish talking and instead sent someone to tell him of their arrival. The crowd was great and they were "outside." This notation is not simply a question of space. Those relatives were outside, that is they were not among those who were listening to Jesus. We can already deduce from this notation that it is not blood ties or the bonds of a customary ritual that lead to being true family of Jesus. Only those inside the house, who hear the Word of God personally, are part of the new family that Jesus came to form. In fact, answering those who told him that his mother with his brothers were outside, Jesus indicates who is part of his new family, the Church; the members of this family are those who listen to the Gospel. It is from this listening that the Christian community is born; it is upon the Word of God that the house is built. The Word of God is the rock that supports each community and the whole Church. And this community - it should be noted carefully - it is not an association whatsoever. It has the traits of a "family." The Church must live as a family, that is, with those bonds that are called "familial". The members of the family must really live as a family, starting from the Father who is in Heaven, who Jesus invites us to call "Abba", and then with Jesus himself and with all the brothers and sisters. We must be careful not to fall into the temptation of believing we are family because we observe some rituals and practice some good work. The closeness with Jesus has the traits of the relationship that we have with family, that is full of gratuitous love, of fraternity, and shared hope. To be a disciple requires attentive and ready listening to Jesus' words and the involvement of our lives with him. It is not enough to be part of the group of Christians to be disciples, like those "relatives" felt their relationship with Jesus. Every day, we have to get "inside" the community and listen to the Gospel as it is preached to us. No one is a disciple just once and for all! We need to stay close to Jesus and listen to his word every day. If we live in this way, Jesus will turn his eyes filled with love on us and we will hear him say, "Here are my mother and my brothers." It is the bliss of being his disciples, not for our special merits, but only because we listen to his word and try to put it into practice.