Scripture Readings for Mass
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2018)

13 October. Saturday, Week 27

1st Reading: Galatians 3:22-29

In Christ, all the baptized are equally children of God, Jew or gentile, slave or free, male or female

But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel: Luke 11:27-28

More blessed than the womb that bore Jesus is the one who hears God's word and keeps it

While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!"; But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!"


The penetrating word

Paul tells how the privileged role of Israel, God's elect people over eighteen centuries, is ended. From now on, "all are one in Christ Jesus." And Luke seems to have in mind the prophecy of Simeon to Mary that she would be "pierced with a sword" (Luke 2:35). With what a shock of bewilderment must Mary have interpreted Jesus' response to a woman who shouted her spontaneous praise for the one who nursed Jesus, when he said, "Rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."

The sword of God's word reaches to the heart of things in Galatians, to strike down all false, artificial boundaries between "Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female." Paul writes: All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with him. The pain and humility by which divisions and grievances may be healed are usually more difficult than the offence which initially provoked the differences. Paul summons us to this "valley of decision," to heal old wounds and family disputes, to become "one in Christ Jesus."

No one escapes the sharp sword of God's word, not even Jesus' own blessed mother. Her role does not stop with her physical motherhood and her gentle, life-giving care of the infant Jesus at her breast. She too listened continually to God's word and acted on its inspirations. In Luke, Mary is presented in just that way, treasuring God's word, spoken through her wide reach of neighbours, and reflecting on them in her heart (Luke 2:19). We too must listen again this day to God's word and act on it with new faith and confidence, and reach out with new bonds of love to our faith-family across the world, as close to us as brothers and sisters.

The shortest gospel reading

Today's gospel is one of the shortest in the Lectionary, just two verses long. It is a little exchange between Jesus and a nameless woman that is to be found only in the gospel of Luke. Women feature prominently in Luke's gospel. A woman was so taken by what Jesus was saying that she spontaneously uttered a beatitude, directed at Jesus' mother. One woman declaring another woman blessed because she was the mother of Jesus, this very special human being. Jesus undoubtedly had the highest possible regard for his mother. Yet, he deflects the woman's beatitude onto a much wider group, 'Still happier/more blessed those who hear the word of God and keep it.' Of course, Jesus' mother was a prominent member of that much wider group. She, more than anyone else, heard the word of God and kept it. Jesus is saying that if his mother is blessed, it is not so much because she is his mother but because she gave herself over to the hearing and doing of God's word, 'Let it be to be according to your word.' Jesus is also saying that if we give ourselves over to the hearing and doing of God's word, we will be just as blessed as she is.