The blessed person is not the one who is a blood relative of the Lord but the one who has ears to hear: the one who is not locked into the narrow world of flesh and blood, the narrow world of the self-centered and earthly; the one who knows how to listen to God’s word. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary tells us in advance that the Lord’s later correction of the woman in the crowd does not deny Mary the praise that is due her but simply points out the real basis for such praise.
Dogma and Preaching, 110
Reflection – We’re all looking for an ‘in’, aren’t we? What’s the secret (or The Secret, if that kind of self-help book is what appeals to you). What are the rules (or The Rules, if that kind of… well, you get the idea).
Whether we think of it in terms of God and eternal life, or some kind of more secular strain of salvation, there is a deep human urge to find the way in, the VIP entrance, the short cut.
That is what this whole business in the Gospel is about where Jesus seems to rebuff his mother and brothers. ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you.’ ‘Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.’ ‘Your mother and brothers are waiting for you.’ ‘These are my mother and brothers. Whoever hears the word of God and keeps it…’
Painful… if you happen to be the mother or ‘brother’ of the Lord. What is this Gospel passage about? Jesus, I maintain, is here closing off the idea that there is can be any path to intimacy with him except the path of faith. There is no short cut, no ‘in’, no secret, no rules, no VIP entrance into the kingdom.
No esoteric knowledge, no purely formalistic religious initiation, nothing of that sort can bring us to the kingdom of heaven.
The only entrance into the kingdom is the path that leads us out of our ego, our self-enclosed, self-defined little world into the broad and beautiful expanses of the Lord. And this path is faith—to accept the word of the Other and base our life on this word. And this was Mary’s path to the kingdom too. Not for her is the claiming of some privileged access to God based on physical relationship. She is blessed not because she bore Christ in her womb, but because she surrendered her entire being to him in faith and obedience.If there is a ‘short cut’ or an ‘in’ to the kingdom it can only be this: to put ourselves at the feet of Mary and ask her to teach us how to do this, too, in all the big and little events of everyday life. And this is what we try to do, day by day, at Madonna House.