Homily on Luke 8:19-21

My brothers in Christ, in order to understand today’s short and startling Gospel account from Luke, we must first put it into its proper context with the help of Mark’s Gospel.  We know from St. Mark that Jesus was in the midst of His Galilean ministry at a house in Capernaum that was absolutely packed with people flocking to see this miracle worker for Nazareth. Mark recounts how Jesus’ family thought he was mad, so they went to “seize him” – this is the same Greek word used when Herod “arrested” John the Baptist.  So the stage was set for some major drama!

Not being able to enter the house because of the crowd, they relayed a message to Jesus that they wanted to “see Him”.  Jesus responded with this cutting message:  “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

 Imagine the response of the crowd! They must have laughed at his family. What humiliation they must have experienced.

Although we know by faith Jesus was NOT insulting his mother because she had fulfilled Jesus’ command perfectly her entire life, exemplified at the Annunciation when she said, “Let it be done to me according to thy word”, still the reality of this situation must have been humiliating.

 Imagine how some of Jesus’ relatives must have told Mary that her Son has disowned her and she is all alone. And the devil must have attacked Mary by twisting this statement and feeding her lies about her relationship with her Son.

By reflecting upon this humiliation of our Blessed Mother, Mary teaches us two great lessons about the virtue of humility.

First, by patiently enduring humiliations her entire life, our Lady of Sorrows teaches us that humiliations are an important way to reach humility.

  • The Carmelites say that just as studying is the way to acquire knowledge, so humiliations are the way to acquire humility.
  • St. Therese of Lisieux has a prayer that we should all hold deep in our hearts: Dear Jesus, please send me a humiliation every time I try to set myself above others.

And second, our Blessed Mother reveals that humility is the most attractive virtue for God’s heart. 

  • In the depth of her humility, I think that Mary completely forgot about herself and any humiliation she would undergo and went with Jesus’ relatives who had the malicious intent in order that she could console her son.
  • St. Teresa of Avila wrote that it was humility alone that drew God down from heaven into her virginal womb & it is humility that attracts God’s graces the most. 

So my brothers in Christ, in imitation of our Lady of Sorrows, let us peacefully accept all humiliations that come our way today, for humility is the fastest way to receive graces from God’s heart.

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