Extravagant Generosity

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
(Matthew 20:1-16)

Scripture Study

20:4 What is just: although the wage is not stipulated as in the case of those first hired, it will be fair.

20:8 Beginning with the last … the first: this element of the parable has no other purpose than to show how the first knew what the last were given (Mt 20:12).

20:13 I am not cheating you: literally, “I am not treating you unjustly.” The owner’s conduct involves no violation of justice (Mt 20:4, 13), and that all the workers receive the same wage is due only to his generosity to the latest arrivals; the resentment of the first comes from envy.

20:16 the last will be first . . . Different interpretations have been given to this saying, which comes from Mk 10:31. In view of Matthew’s associating it with the following parable (Mt 20:1–15) and substantially repeating it (in reverse order) at the end of that parable (Mt 20:16), it may be that his meaning is that all who respond to the call of Jesus, at whatever time (first or last), will be the same in respect to inheriting the benefits of the kingdom, which is the gift of God.

Scripture Reflection

The parable of the vineyard workers shines a spotlight on the extravagant generosity of God. The late hires received from the divine landowner the same compensation as the early arrivals, yet this was neither earned by their efforts nor owed to them according to the terms of the contract. It was not something they deserved or merited. It was simply a gift that the Lord was free to bestow at his good pleasure.

The early hires, however, mistook divine generosity for divine injustice. Theirs was an instinctive human reaction to an unfulfilled expectation (“we should have gotten more than the latecomers”) combined with a perception of unfairness (“the latecomers got a better hourly rate than we did”). Many of us can relate to the perspective of the disgruntled workers; their initial reaction—and perhaps ours—is to think they have been cheated.

But this is not the case, as the landowner explains. The injustice lies instead with the grumbling laborers, who have become envious of the others. Envy is not simply jealousy, which is the desire to attain or possess what another person has. Envy is the sin of being upset at another’s good fortune. Scripture traces its beginning back to the devil himself as we read in the Book of Wisdom.

The parable thus conveys a theological message about God’s goodness as well as a moral message that cautions readers against envy. The challenge is to rejoice at the liberality of God manifest in the lives of others. None of us is deserving of his grace or has a claim on his blessings. We all have reason to be grateful that the Lord is “generous.”

– Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Be the Good Soil

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”
(Luke 8:4-15)

Scripture Study

8:4 in a parable: parables either reveal or conceal divine mysteries. Here Jesus’ message remains hidden to the crowds, although it is explained to the disciples (8:9–10)

8:6 for lack of moisture Matthew states that the soil was shallow (the soil above the bedrock warms quickly, so seeds readily sprout, but the shallow soil cannot sustain growth – Mt 13:5). Luke clarifies the statement, but the meaning is the same: The plants did not have sufficient root depth to absorb moisture.

8:8 whoever has ears to hear ought to hear with this closing phrase, Jesus is calling on His audience to do more than hear; He wants them to understand and apply His teaching. The Greek verb used here, meaning “to hear” (akouō), is closely related to the verb meaning “to obey” (hypakouō).

[In the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the OT), akouō is used to translate Hebrew and Aramaic terms that call for obedience to God; this conceptual overlap between hearing and obeying is reflected in Luke’s use of akouō. In Acts (also written by Luke), Peter and John state that they must listen (akouō) to God rather than the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:19). Compare Mark 9:7; John 10:8, 16.]

8:10 they may look but not see In another quotation of Isaiah, Jesus compares His ministry with that of the OT prophets (see Isa 6:9–10; compare Jer 5:21; Ezek 12:2). In the same way that Israel rejected Isaiah’s message centuries earlier, many Jews reject Jesus’ teaching. They are unable to see the truth about God’s kingdom concealed within His parables.

8:11 word of God in the context of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, “God’s word” or “word of God” typically refers to Jesus’ teaching about God’s kingdom.

8:12 those beside the path the seed described in Luke 8:5. The enemy who devours the seed is the devil, who is successful in preventing some people who hear Jesus’ proclamation from believing it.

8:13 those on the rock the seed described in v. 6. They initially receive the kingdom message but quickly abandon it when testing comes.

8:14 seed that fell into the thorn plants the seed described in v. 7. For these people, the cares and pursuits of their culture prevent their growth and choke out their faith.

8:15 the seed on the good soil the seed described in v. 8. These people receive Jesus’ message and give evidence of it in their lives.

Scripture Reflection

Jesus tells us himself that the seed is the Word of God and his preaching; and that the kinds of ground the seed falls on reflects people’s different attitudes towards Jesus and what he has taught. Our Lord sows the life of grace in souls through the preaching of the Church and through an endless flow of actual graces. However, Jesus foresaw that, due to the bad dispositions of some who hear his words, his parables would lead them to harden their hearts and to reject his grace.

The Lord tells us that the good soil has three distinct features — listening to God’s demands with the good disposition of a generous heart; striving to ensure that we do not fall away from the demands required of the good soil as time goes by; and finally, knowing that this is a lifelong process of beginning and beginning again, therefore, he urges us to persevere if the fruit is slow to appear.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

For the Love of Money

Beloved:
Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
(1 Timothy 6:2-12)

Scripture Study

6:3-10 Paul resumes his criticism of false teachers wreaking havoc in Ephesus (1:3–11). He contends that the driving force behind their novelties is pride, an infatuation with controversy, and a distorted view of leadership. Not only that, but they exact a price for their preaching in order to accumulate wealth for themselves (6:10; Tit 1:11).

6:7 nothing into the world: Recalls similar statements in Job 1:21 and Eccles 5:15.

6:10 the love of money: Paul reproves, not the wealthy, but lovers of wealth. So dangerous is the allurement of riches that he warns in the strongest possible terms against piling it up for ourselves. Unless we become “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3), the downward pull of money and material possessions will eventually lead to destruction (Lk 12:15–21). ● What evils are caused by wealth! There are frauds, robberies, miseries, enmities, contentions, battles. Take away the love of money, and you put an end to war, conflict, enmity, strife, and contention (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Timothy 7).

6:12 the noble confession: Probably Timothy’s profession of faith enunciated at his Baptism. Paul is urging him to live out his baptismal promises to the full (CCC 2145).

Scripture Reflection

“The love of money is the root of all evils”

All those in the world, including Christians, are aware of the harmful effects of greed. St Paul uses this memorable phrase to get at the false teachers: the root cause of all their errors is their greed for possessions. It is clearly a perverted thing to do to turn godliness, religion, into a way of making money. Those who try to satisfy this ambition will end up unhappy and wretched.

It hurts a person of faith in Christ to see that some use the technique of speaking about the Cross of Christ only so as to climb and obtain promotion. Good teachers, on the contrary, are content with food and a roof over their head. They embrace “the spirit of poverty and charity that is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ” (Gaudium et spes).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Graceful Choice

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:9-13)

Scripture Study

9:9 A man named Matthew: Mark names this tax collector Levi (Mk 2:14). No such name appears in the four lists of the twelve who were the closest companions of Jesus (Mt 10:2–4; Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:14–16; Acts 1:13 [eleven, because of the defection of Judas Iscariot]), whereas all four list a Matthew, designated in Mt 10:3 as “the tax collector.” The evangelist may have changed the “Levi” of his source to Matthew so that this man, whose call is given special notice, like that of the first four disciples (Mt 4:18–22), might be included among the twelve. Another reason for the change may be that the disciple Matthew was the source of traditions peculiar to the church for which the evangelist was writing.

9:10 His house: it is not clear whether his refers to Jesus or Matthew. Tax collectors: Jews who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs. Table association with such persons would cause ritual impurity.

9:11 Teacher: for Matthew, this designation of Jesus is true, for he has Jesus using it of himself (Mt 10:24, 25; 23:8; 26:18), yet when it is used of him by others they are either his opponents (Mt 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 22:16, 24, 36) or, as here and in Mt 19:16, well-disposed persons who cannot see more deeply. Thus it reveals an inadequate recognition of who Jesus is.

9:12 Do not need a physician: this maxim of Jesus with its implied irony was uttered to silence his adversaries who objected that he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mk 2:16). Because the scribes and Pharisees were self-righteous, they were not capable of responding to Jesus’ call to repentance and faith in the gospel.

9:13 Go and learn … not sacrifice: Matthew adds the prophetic statement of Hos 6:6 to the Marcan account. If mercy is superior to the temple sacrifices, how much more to the laws of ritual impurity.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew and our Gospel tells of his conversion. Matthew’s laconic account details what the transition from spiritual death to spiritual life is like. First, we notice the look of Jesus. If there is one theme clearly stated in the New Testament is that of the primacy of grace.

Why? We don’t know. We just know that we will not lift ourselves to spiritual wholeness. A gaze has to come upon us from the outside. Not so much finding God as allowing oneself to be found.

Jesus says to him “Follow me.” There is nothing simpler or more basic in the Christian life than this. This is what we disciples do: we follow, we walk after him, we apprentice to him. “He got up and followed him.” The symbolism here is marvelous. Getting up, rising up, anastasis, the same word used to designate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Conversion (turning around) is also elevation, rising up.

To come to Christ is to come to a higher, richer, broader form of life. Now life is not simply the pleasures and goods of the body; now life is lived in and through God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

How Great are His Works!

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.

Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.

He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
(Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

Scripture Study

111:1 I will give thanks to Refers to glad remembrance of God’s actions. all my heart The psalmist describes his intensity and commitment: he will hold none of himself back.

111:2 Great are the works of Lord The Hebrew phrase used here, ma’aseh yhwh, often refers to the events in the book of Exodus. The psalmist likely uses an intentionally broad term so that his audience will reflect on the wide range of God’s works.

111:3 his justice God’s tsedaqah is a central characteristic of His glory.
forever The Hebrew word used here, ad (which refers to “a lasting future time”), is synonymous with olam (“long time” or “future time”; vv. 5, 9). In Psa 111, these terms convey the meaning of “forever.” God’s righteousness is unending.

111:5 those who fear An attitude of pious reverence toward God.
his covenant A binding agreement between God and His people.

111:6 the inheritance of the nations The psalmist describes how Yahweh took the inheritance from the nations and gave it to Israel. He may be referring to the conquest of the land of Canaan (see the book of Joshua).

Scripture Reflection

Faithfulness and justice are the faithful precepts. The faithful precepts are to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. In this way the works of the LORD are to become the work of his people. For this psalmist, fear of the LORD is the precepts, the motive to do them, and their performance.

Wisdom begins with knowing and obeying the LORD. It is the instruction of the LORD, not the teaching of the sages, that produces a “good understanding.” So in the context in which it stands, the didactic principle in a quite profound way speaks of the works of the LORD. For the psalmist, wisdom is not mere prudence, however sagacious and useful, nor is it a theory about the meaning of the world, an explanation of what is and how it works. Wisdom rises out of and is given through the twofold works of God.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.   

Tenderness

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.
(Luke 7:11-17)

Scripture Study

7:11 Nain Approximately 20 miles southwest of Capernaum.

7:12 was being carried out Graveyards were typically located outside the city walls for the sake of ritual cleanliness (see Num 5:1–4; 19:11–20). she was a widow With no husband or sons, the widow’s means of provision were gone. She would be forced to rely on the charity of her neighbors and struggle for her livelihood.

7:13 he was moved with pity Jesus is moved to action due to her suffering and destitution. The Greek word used here, splanchnizomai, occurs in Luke two other times, both in parables: The father has compassion when his wayward son returns (Luke 15:20), and the Samaritan has compassion on the injured man (10:33).

7:16 A great prophet has arisen in our midst Accounts of Elijah and Elisha raising sons from the dead appear in 1 Kgs 17:17–24; 2 Kgs 4:32–37. The parallel between Jesus and Elijah is a prominent theme in Matthew.

Scripture Reflection

Christ knows he is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle and will tell the story all over the countryside. But he does not act artificially, merely to create an effect. Quite simply he is touched by that woman’s suffering and cannot but console her. He goes up to her and says, ‘Do not weep.’ It is like he is saying: ‘I don’t want to see you crying, I have come on earth to bring joy and peace.’ Only then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God. But first came his compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of Christ the man.

– St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Not Under My Roof

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, Go, and he goes;
and to another, Come here, and he comes;
and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health.
(Luke 7:1-10)

Scripture Study

7:1 Capernaum This fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee served as Jesus’ base of operations during His public ministry.

7:2 centurion’s A centurion was a Roman military officer in charge of roughly 80 soldiers.

7:3 he sent elders of the Jews Since he was a Gentile (non-Jew), the centurion sent Jewish leaders to vouch for him to Jesus, a Jewish teacher.

7:4 He deserves The elders’ opinion of the centurion is based on his generosity to the Jewish community. The centurion himself recognizes that he is not worthy (vv. 6–7).

7:6 I am not worthy Coming from a leader in the Roman occupying force, this would have been a shocking expression of reverence toward a Jewish teacher. The centurion probably was aware that a Jew who entered a Gentile’s house became ritually unclean and thus doing so would have been a serious inconvenience for a Jewish person like Jesus

7:8 a person subject to authority The centurion recognizes that Jesus has considerable authority over sickness, similar to his own authority within the military chain of command.

7:9 found such faith This statement, praising one of Israel’s foreign rulers, would not have been well received by Jesus’ Jewish listeners. Jesus frequently links faith and healing (compare Luke 5:20).

Scripture Reflection

What stands out here is the centurion’s humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is a route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it.

Speaking of his own conversion experience, St Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man—to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. Confessions).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.   

Living for Christ

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
(Romans 14:7-9)

Scripture Study

14:7 no one dies for oneself Emphasizes dependence on God and unity among believers.

14:8 we die for the Lord Indicates that in all things, the believer’s purpose is to serve and please God.

we are the Lord’s Paul affirms that neither life nor death can adversely affect the believer’s union with Christ (see Rom 8:35; 1 Thess 5:10).

14:9 for this is why Here Paul reminds his audience that Christ’s death and resurrection should encourage believers to live for the Lord, not themselves. Christians should use their freedom in Christ to show love and respect to fellow believers since He died for all people—both the living and the dead, the strong and the weak.

Scripture Reflection

We do not own ourselves, we are not our own masters. God, One and Three, has created us, and Jesus Christ has freed us from sin by redeeming us with his blood. Therefore, he is our lord, and we his servants, committed to him body and soul. He is lord of our life and of our death.

Commenting on these verses St Gregory the Great says: “The saints, therefore, do not live and do not die for themselves. They do not live for themselves, because in all that they do they strive for spiritual gain: by praying, preaching and persevering in good works, they seek the increase of the citizens of the heavenly fatherland. Nor do they die for themselves because men see them glorifying God by their death, hastening to reach him through death” (In Ezechielem homiliae, 2, 10).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Trustworthy Saying

Beloved:
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Scripture Study

1:15 This saying is trustworthy: this phrase regularly introduces in the Pastorals a basic truth of early Christian faith; cf. 1 Tm 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tm 2:11; Ti 3:8.

1:17 King of ages: through Semitic influence, the Greek expression could mean “everlasting king”; it could also mean “king of the universe.”

Scripture Reflection

The point being emphasized here in this pastoral letter is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. The Apostle has condensed into very few words God’s plan for the redemption of mankind, which he will go on to say more about later. “The mercy of God is infinite,” says St Francis of Assisi, “and, according to the Gospel, even if our sins were infinite, his mercy is yet greater than our sins. And the Apostle St Paul has said that Christ the blessed came into the world to save sinners” (The Little Flowers of St Francis).

This is, in fact, one of the basic truths of faith and appears in the Creed: “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven”. He came to save us from the only evil, that which can separate us from God—sin. By his victory over sin, Christ gave men and women the honor of being sons and daughters of God; this new character and status equips them to light up the world around them with the brightness of their Christian lives. (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By)

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Our Lady of Sorrows

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(John 19:25-27)

Scripture Study

19:25 his mother’s sister: Possibly “Salome”, the mother of the apostles James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).

19:26 Woman: The address sounds impersonal to modern readers but was considered polite in biblical antiquity. ● Jesus probably alludes to Gen 3:15, which describes the mother of the Messiah as the “woman” whose offspring conquers the devil (CCC 726, 2618). behold your son!: Jesus honors his Mother by entrusting her to the protective care of the Apostle John, presumably because Mary had no other children to assume the responsibility. The Church maintains that Jesus’ Mother, Mary, remained a virgin throughout her life. These so-called brethren of Jesus are thus his relatives but not children of Mary. Four observations support the Church’s tradition: (1) These brethren are never called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (Jn 2:1; 19:25; Acts 1:14). (2) Two names mentioned, James and Joseph, are sons of a different “Mary” in Mt 27:56 (Mk 15:40). (3) It is unlikely that Jesus would entrust his Mother to the Apostle John at his Crucifixion if she had other natural sons to care for her (Jn 19:26–27). (4) The word “brethren” (Gk. adelphoi) has a broader meaning than blood brothers. Since ancient Hebrew had no word for “cousin”, it was customary to use “brethren” in the Bible for relationships other than blood brothers. In the Greek OT, a “brother” can be a nearly related cousin (1 Chron 23:21–22), a more remote kinsman (Deut 23:7; 2 Kings 10:13–14), an uncle or a nephew (Gen 13:8), or the relation between men bound by covenant (2 Sam 1:26; cf. 1 Sam 18:3). Continuing this OT tradition, the NT often uses “brother” or “brethren” in this wider sense. Paul uses it as a synonym for his Israelite kinsmen in Rom 9:3. It also denotes biologically unrelated Christians in the New Covenant family of God (Rom 8:29; 12:1; Col 1:2; Heb 2:11; Jas 1:2; CCC 500). ● John is not just an individual disciple, he is portrayed by the evangelist as an icon of every disciple whom Jesus loves. In this sense, Mary is given to all beloved disciples of Christ, just as every disciple is given to the maternal care of Mary. The assumption here is that family relations are extended beyond the limits of natural lineage, so that every baptized believer has God as a Father, Christ as an eldest brother, Mary as a Mother, and the saints as brothers and sisters (CCC 501, 964, 2679).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our Gospel Jesus entrusts care of his mother to St. John. We can see some background for this profound action in The Passion of the Christ, the most provocative and popular religious movie in decades. What I would like to do is simply highlight a theme from the movie that especially struck me when I saw it.

The theme that I would like to emphasize is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are compelled to see the scenes through her eyes. Early in Luke’s Gospel, we are told that Mary “contemplated these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She is the theologian par excellence, the one who understands. When she sees Jesus being led away, she weeps and then she says “Amen.”

In scene after scene, we watch her spiritual comprehension. The wonderful scene where she is marked with the Blood of her Son is especially evocative. And then the Pieta depiction at the very end, where we see Mary’s role: to present the sacrifice of her Son to us and for us.

= Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.