How Blessed We Can Be
“While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.’ He replied, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’” ~ Luke 11:27-28
.....and with those powerful words, the only ones chosen for today’s Gospel, we begin our reflection buoyed by the love of God and the joyful hope that he gives to those who hear his word and despite the cornucopia of false narratives and temptations that permeate our fallen world, choose to live their lives rooted in it.
The first thing we must take from this message of salvation is the very fact that we must hear the word of God. The importance of reading Scripture every day simply cannot be stressed enough. If you’re not reading the word of God, if it doesn’t become part of your very breathe and being, you naturally put yourself at an enormous disadvantage in your efforts to observe it and live by it.
Where do you seek it? The word of God certainly won’t be spoken or heard with much regularity on television or the internet, so tuning out and logging off in the right proportion is a good start. Allow the Bible to become part of your daily routine, perhaps even two or three times a day. The recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours could serve as an ambitious medium to long term goal.
Those imbued with the desire to observe God’s teachings possess true and eternal power, a power born of the confidence that God’s love is far mightier than any of the weapons of the empires of the world, nuclear or otherwise. As Saint Paul said in his 2nd Letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:8-13) in what will serve as tomorrow’s 2nd Reading there is no chaining the Word of God. As such, there is no chaining the people of God, those who in addition to living the word, receive the Eucharist, the very word made flesh, and thus methodically become that which they consume. Saint Paul goes on to say:
“If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.”
As the prophet Joel points out in today’s rather haunting and apocalyptic 1st Reading (Joel 4:12-21) there are somber...no, make that devastating consequences associated with neglecting, ignoring or mocking the word of God. Of those Egyptians and Edomites who persecuted his people, his beloved children who observed his teachings, God promises “I will avenge their blood, and not leave it unpunished.” (4:21).
When reflecting upon today’s Gospel, allow yourself to be in awe of God’s promise. Allow yourself to be in awe of our Blessed Mother, she who not only bore the womb that carried Jesus as well as the breasts at which he nursed, but also heard the word of God and observed it. For this she is the Eternal Queen of Paradise. But let us also remember: the opposite of “blessed” in this instance is damned.
As the title of my essay suggests, how blessed we can be, or whether we will be blessed at all, depends entirely upon us. Jesus heard the word of his father and observed it, which for him meant carrying the cross that he would then be nailed to. What’s our response?
Through God’s gift of free will, it is up to us to seek the word of God and then live by it.
To hear it. To observe it.
To live it now and for all of eternity.