Grace to you!
I introduce today’s reflection with a famous Bible story. Fascinated by the Blessed Lord Jesus Christ’s words and actions, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him,” ‘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!'” (Lk 11: 27-28).
Let’s pause and reflect deeply on the above text. Indeed, the Blessed Lord Jesus was not dismissive of his mother. He was reaffirming what made his mother “blessed.” Namely, hearing and keeping God’s word.
I would love to walk us through some insight into what it means to faithfully hear and keep God’s word, using Mary’s example. I draw from the teachings of Saint Pope John Paul II, from the homily he gave in Mexico City Cathedral on 26 January 1979.
The Holy Father 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 get to the core of embracing God’s Word and how to be faithful.
The 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 a blessing to do so.
Second is reception and acceptance. According to the saintly 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 understand that we may not entirely know how God’s word or plan would eventually play out in our lives. “…in God’s plan [there are] more areas of mystery than clarity,” and that, however we may try, we will never understand it completely.
Isn’t it true that we are not always sure how the will of God would work out in our lives? Yet the expectation is to trust that God will see us through. God never fails.
The third is the consistency to live following what one believes. We have to adapt our lives to God’s word. It 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 Holy Father 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. In the Annunciation, Mary’s ‘fiat’ finds its fullness in the silent ‘fiat’ that she repeats at the foot of the Cross.”
So, if you want to respond to the Blessed Lord’s invitation, be blessed in the footsteps of Mary, follow these four steps of faithfulness. Namely, 1) deeply desire God’s Word, God’s Will; 2) accept it; 3) be consistent in holding on to it, and 4) 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
[Saturday Week 27: Gal 3:22-29; Lk 11:27-28]