Reading (2 Samuel 6:12b-15, 17-19) Gospel (St. Mark 3:31-35)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord asks that great question: Who are My mother and My brothers? And He says, Whoever does the Will of God is mother and brother and sister to Me. This being the case, we first have to understand that it is not a put-down to Our Lady, as some would try to suggest. There is no one who did the Will of God more perfectly than Our Lady. Consequently, if the one who does the Will of God is mother and brother and sister to the Lord, Our Lady primarily is not only mother in the physical sense, but she is also mother in this extended sense that Our Lord is speaking about, that is, in the discipleship in union with Him. Our Lady is pre-eminent in both senses in that way, and in no way is this any kind of put-down to her. But it also tells us something about our own selves. The Lord makes very clear that it is those who do the Will of His Father. It is not for those who simply want to say they believe, but they have to act upon the belief. It is not enough, once again, just to sit back and have this generic idea of Who He is; we have to act on what it is that we believe.
When we look at what that means, of course, it means first and foremost that we have to pray. How can we claim even to be Christian, let alone Catholic, if we do not pray? So that is number one. We cannot know Jesus and we cannot know His Will if we are not in union with Him and if we are not seeking to know. How can we do His Will if we do not even know what it is? It requires first that we have to pray. Secondly, it requires that we have to seek Him wholeheartedly.
Look at what David did in the first reading. He desired to honor and glorify God so much and he was so filled with that desire for God that as the ark was being transferred from the house of Obededom to the temple, he sacrificed an ox every six steps that the priests made with the ark. He gave the people the raisin cakes and the meat and so on, and he also was dancing before the ark. Now I am not going to recommend that anybody come before the tabernacle and dance, but it is a matter not of what the body is doing at that point, but what is in the heart. So often we drag ourselves before the Lord and it is pretty evident that we really do not want to be there, but David, on the other hand, wanted desperately to be in the presence of the Lord. That is the kind of example we can look at. How much do we really want Jesus? How much do we really want to be with Him?
The other thing we need to be so careful of is that most of us will say, “Yes, I want to be with Jesus” – but only to a certain degree. We refuse to open our hearts fully to Him because we are afraid or because we are attached to too many things. We know fully well that if we let Him in any further, He is going to say, “You need to get rid of a few things that are cluttering things up. You need to get rid of the selfishness.” Most of us do not want to do that. So we need to be detached from our own selves, and we need to be detached from everything that is not Christ.
Then we need to strive to be obedient. If we are going to do God’s Will, it has to be the way He wants things done. It cannot be our own way of doing things; it cannot be our decision as to what and how and when. Rather it is when the Lord tells us that this is what He wants done, and then we do it. We have to do it when He wants and how He wants. That, again, is not easy for us because we all know the Lord is going to ask of us things that are very difficult, things that sometimes are pretty humiliating, things that perhaps are going to put us in a bad light with others, things that are going to cause people to think we have lost or marbles, or whatever it might be. The Lord is going to ask us simply to do His Will, no matter what it happens to be. The question is: Are we willing to do it?
If we want that kind of union with Christ, if we want that kind of closeness with Our Lord that He speaks of in the Gospel – to be close enough to be called mother and brother and sister to Him – these are the things that are required, to do the Will of God. To do the Will of God means that we have to know the Will of God. To know the Will of God means that we have to know God, Whose Will we are striving to know. That means we need to strive for that union with Him, to open our heart, to seek to serve Him, to know Him, to love Him, to give everything we have because we know that God wants only what is the very best. As long as we are striving to do God’s Will, that is where we will find fulfillment for our own selves; but far more importantly, we will find that union with Christ, to be mother and brother and sister to Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.