Grace to you!
May I introduce today’s reflection with a popular bible story: Fascinated by Jesus’ words and actions, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus, “‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he [Jesus] said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11: 27-28).
Has there been a time you deeply reflected on this text?
Surely, Jesus was not dismissive of his mother. He was actually reaffirming what made his mother “Blessed” – hearing and keeping God’s word.
I would love to walk us through some insight into what faithfully hearing and keeping God’s word means, using the example of Mary. I will borrow from the tradition of Saint Pope John Paul II, from the homily he gave in Mexico City Cathedral on 26 January 1979.
The Pope said Mary’s fidelity to God manifested in four ways, sort of one leading to the other. I would love for us to pay attention to them because they could help us in getting to the core of how to embrace God’s word, how to be faithful.
First is search. “Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God’s plan in her and for the world. Quomodo fiet? How shall this be?, she asked the Angel of the Annunciation” (see Luke 1:34).
We must search, and I would say thirst for God’s Word, God’s plan in our lives as the deer yearns for a flowing stream. It’s blessing to do so.
Second is reception and acceptance. According to the Pope, the how shall this be (quomodo fiet?) is “changed, on Mary’s lips, to a fiat: Let it be done, I am ready, I accept.” The pope says this stage is crucial because we have to understand we may not completely know how the word or plan of God would eventually play out in our lives. “…in God’s plan [there are] more areas of mystery than of clarity” and that however we may try, we will never succeed in understanding it completely.
Isn’t it true in your life that many times, you do not know how the will of God would work out? Yet the expectation is to trust that God will see you through. God never fails.
Third is consistency to live in accordance with what one believes. We have to adapt our life to God’s word. This comes with trails and temptations, but we have to be consistent. “But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test, that of duration,” the pope says.
Fourth is constancy. The pope says, “It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one’s whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness. Mary’s ‘fiat’ in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent ‘fiat’ that she repeats at the foot of the Cross”
So, if you want to respond to Jesus’s invitation as to be blessed in the footsteps of Mary, follow these four steps of faithfulness – deeply desire God’s Word, God’s Will, accept it, be consistent in holding on to it and be constant to the end. How about that?
May God give us the grace to do so. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.