24 July
Mt 12:46-50

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

Commenting on a similar passage (Luke 11:27) Meister Eckhart said, "’The one who hears my word and keeps it is more blessed than the womb that bore me and the breasts that I sucked’. If I had said this and if it were my word, that that person is more blessed who hears God's word and keeps it than Mary is by giving birth and being Christ's bodily mother—I repeat, if I had said this, people would be surprised.  But Christ himself has said it, and therefore we must believe him that it is the truth, for Christ is the Truth.”  And in another place, “I say that if Mary had not first borne God spiritually, he would never have been born of her physically.... It is more worth to God to be born spiritually of the individual virgin or good soul, than that he was physically born of Mary.”

Some may think, ‘Could this apparent put-down of Mary be right or good?’ 

First of all, it is not a put-down of Mary but a raising up of the disciples.  Eckhart continues: “The whole of Christendom pays our Lady great honour and respect because she is the bodily mother of Christ, and that is right and proper. Holy Christendom prays to her for grace which she is able to obtain, and that is right. And if holy Christendom pays her such honour, as indeed is fitting, nevertheless holy Christendom should pay even greater honour and glory to those who hear God's word and keep it, for they are even more blessed than our Lady is through being the bodily mother of Christ, as Christ himself has told us. All that honour, and immeasurably more, is accorded to those who hear God's word and keep it.”

If you are still unhappy, read what St Augustine has to say.  “It is greater for Mary to have been a disciple of Christ than to have been the mother of Christ.... Mary was therefore blessed because, even before she gave birth, she bore the Master in her womb. … Mary is holy and Mary is blessed, but the Church is greater than the Virgin Mary.  And why?  Because Mary is a part of the Church, a holy limb, an extraordinary limb, an outstanding limb, but she is only a limb of the whole body. If she is but a part of the whole body, greater indeed is the body than a limb.  Christ is the head, and Christ is the entire head and body.”



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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