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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Tuesday 16th in Ordinary Time

Saints July 23th: Bridget, religious, patron saint of Europe

1st Reading (Exod 14,21—15,1): Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and charioteers went after them right into the midst of the sea. In the night watch just before dawn the Lord cast through the column of the fiery cloud upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic; and he so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly drive. With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel, because the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the Lord told Moses, «Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers». So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea, when the Lord hurled them into its midst. As the water flowed back, it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh's whole army that had followed the children of Israel into the sea. Not a single one of them escaped. But the children of Israel had marched on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the Lord had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and believed in him and in his servant Moses. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord: I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
Responsorial Psalm: 15
R/. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
At the breath of your anger the waters piled up, the flowing waters stood like a mound, the flood waters congealed in the midst of the sea. The enemy boasted, «I will pursue and overtake them; I will divide the spoils and have my fill of them; I will draw my sword; my hand shall despoil them!».

When your wind blew, the sea covered them; like lead they sank in the mighty waters. When you stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them!

And you brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance, the place where you made your seat, o Lord, the sanctuary, o Lord, which your hands established.
Verscicle before the Gospel (Jn 14:23): Alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mt 12,46-50): While Jesus was still talking to the people, his mother and his brothers wanted to speak to him and they waited outside. So someone said to him, «Your mother and your brothers are just outside; they want to speak with you». Jesus answered, «Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?». Then He pointed to his disciples and said, «Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother».

«Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me (...) mother»

Fr. Pere SUÑER i Puig SJ
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, to start with, the Gospel surprises us: «Who is my mother? (Mt 12:48), wonders Jesus. It would seem the Lord is showing a contemptuous attitude towards Mary, his mother. Nothing of the sort! What Jesus wants to make quite clear is that, in his own eyes —God's eyes— the crucial value of a person does not lie on flesh and blood facts, but on the spiritual disposition to accept God's will: «Then He pointed to his disciples and said, ‘Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother’» (Mt 12:49-50). At that time, God's will was for Jesus to evangelize those who were listening and for these ones to actually listen to him. This was a priority over any other value, no matter how dear. To abide by his Father's will, Jesus Christ had left Mary and now He was preaching far away from home.

But, who was ever more willing to abide by God's will than Mary? «‘I am the Lord's servant’, Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said’» (Lk 1:38). This is why, St. Augustine says that Mary, first accepted God's word with a spirit of obedience and, only afterwards, she conceived it in her womb for the Incarnation.

In other words: God loves us as per our saintliness. The Virgin Mary is the most blessed, and, therefore, the most loved. However, God does not love us because we may be saints. It is rather the other way round: we are saints because He loves us. The first one to love is always our Lord (cf. 1Jn 4:10). Mary proves it when she says: «For He has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness» (Lk 1:48). In God's eyes our own lowliness is evident; but He wants to magnify us, to sanctify us.