“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” ~ J.P. Morgan
In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:19-21) we look in on Jesus in the throes of his ministry, surrounded by huge throngs of people. Crowds so large that Mary and the Apostles were unable to join him. “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you,” someone tells Jesus, to which He swiftly replies “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.”
In this response, Jesus is in essence inviting us to pursue a new beginning, a life built squarely and firmly on the word of God. “Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands,” is the plea of the Psalmist in today’s appropriately selected Responsorial Psalm (119), a reminder that we cannot complete this earthly journey on our own; not if it is to end at the gates of the Father’s Heavenly Dwelling Place. But we must not wait. Jesus always seeks to encounter us precisely wherever we may be in life. Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. In reality, beginning is what makes the conditions perfect. As C.S. Lewis once said, “starting anew is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
Calling God our Father or Mary our Mother are not merely pious sentiments or ethereal platitudes. As we learn today, the idea springs from the very heart of Jesus, a heart that embraces everyone who follows him. Jesus invites us to be his next of kin, his close relations, his family. His story is our story, he gives us his word to be our own. Knowing how much Jesus loved his Mother Mary, the mere notion that he loves us in equal measure should fill our hearts with overwhelming joy.
Through the Eucharist, wherein two become one by way of the faithful’s receipt of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus ~ similar in some respects to the way that two become one by way of the Sacramental Bond of Marriage ~ we are fortified and nourished in the newness of all things divine. Through the veneration and emulation of our Blessed Mother, who heard the word of God and acted upon it from the Annunciation to her heartbreak and anguish at the foot of the cross, we deepen our kinship and covenant with God.
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice,” our author, perhaps King Solomon, teaches us in today’s 1st Reading (Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13). One of the primary reasons that there is so much injustice in the world today is that it takes courage to do the right thing . . and courage is oftentimes in extremely short supply. The greatest service we can offer our families, our loved ones, and the world for that matter is to remain true to Jesus and his word. In this way, the Good News of salvation is being proclaimed through us, and all things become possible.