Our hearing the word is not enough. We must obey it in order to experience the blessings that are within it.
In this short passage we are asked to consider an important question: What is of more importance, one’s familial, and biological bloodlines, or hearing the word of God and obeying it? It is another example of how God’s wisdom is not ours.
In this scene Jesus is surrounded by yet another a crowd eagerly listening to his teachings. He has been teaching about the kingdom of God and the dangers of temptation in the world and the workings of the Evil One. It is powerful stuff. And one woman in the crowd, deeply moved by Jesus’ words, cries out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” (verse 27) Jesus replies, without skipping a beat, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Jesus is not denying his mother here. But he is challenging us to think beyond the finite ideas we usually use to define the world. While family is important, it is only penultimately so, for there is something far more important for us to give our attention to in this life. Here, once again, we find our earthly wisdoms challenged by the wisdom of God. The paradox here is that if we hear and obey the word of God above all else, the rest of our earthly lives will be made even more blessed. Let’s look at it.
We grow (or are stifled) by the love (or lack of love) we experience in our biological families. If we have been born into a good and loving family, it is there that we learn how to navigate life’s joys and pains through the nurturing love and discipline of our parents. But this is not enough. Jesus is telling us here that, though we may be blessed in having been raised in such an environment (or not), we are (or can be) even more blessed if we are taught to hear and to obey the word of God. Why is that? Because, if we learn to hear and to understand the liberating word of God and then develop the habit of obeying it, we will become more like Jesus, who heard his Father’s word and obeyed it perfectly. Is this not what we are called to do? If we become more like Jesus we will be less vulnerable to the world’s temptations. We will more clearly live in accord with the image and likeness of God that each of us is made in. This, in turn, will bring more of God’s blessings to us to be shared with our families, as well as with all others. The truth is that when we hear the word of God, we are hearing perfect wisdom. This word has in it the means of eternal life. In his word is salvation, perfect mercy and perfect forgiveness. It is in obeying his word that we are finally able to live in perfect freedom. Our hearing the word is not enough. We must obey it in order to experience the blessings that are within it.
Father, help us to hear your word more clearly each day. Let it sink into us more deeply until it becomes the very source and power of our every word and deed, as it was in Jesus. Bless us, O Lord, with the courage to obey your heavenly wisdom here on earth, within our families, and in our public lives, so that your blessings will be made known to all those we encounter each day. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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