Day 6 - Novena to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth
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Day 6 Novena Reflection
In the Gospel of Luke, we read:
"The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." (Luke 8:19-21)
The encounter is also found in the account offered to us by St Matthew.
As one who teaches and preaches in the Catholic Church and the broader Christian community, I am often asked about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters. If by that question is meant natural or blood relatives, the text and the unbroken Christian tradition make the answer clear, No.
But the passage has a much deeper meaning.
Failure to consider the original language of the text has led to a mistaken notion of the possibility of Jesus having brothers in his natural family. The reality is that the word used for extended family, a vital part of the Jewish understanding of family, is not accurately translated.
Sadly, since the unfortunate ruptures in the Church since the Protestant Reformation (and there is plenty of blame to go around), this particular misinterpretation has been amplified and used in polemics. Such an exercise not only adds to the unfortunate divisions among Christians, it misses the meaning and beauty of the passage.
Unfortunately, some have also argued that these passages stand for the proposition that Jesus was making a comment intended to lessen the importance of his earthly mother. This "mother is unimportant" interpretation is textually inaccurate and theologically mistaken.
It runs contrary to the biblical context of the encounter and rejects the consistent, unbroken Christian tradition concerning its profound meaning. Such a misreading ascribes a minimalist role to Mary in the Christian revelation and consequently in the life of every Christian.
It can cause us to miss a profound truth concerning the Christian life and vocation - as well as the meaning of the Church. It can discourage us from digging deeper into the text and grasping a profoundly important insight. This insight has great implications and can lead us to a deeper experience of the Christian life and vocation.
I stand with the ancient Christian tradition, rooted in what is called the Patristic literature (writings of the early Church fathers). The opposite of this "mother is less important" claim is what is being revealed through these words - and in this encounter.
Understood in this light, this passage reveals a framework for an authentically human and relational spirituality, a spirituality of communion. We are made members of the very family of God through Jesus Christ and His Saving Incarnation. We are his mothers, brothers and sisters, as we live His Word and walk in His Way.
Through our Baptism, we are all invited into the very family of God. When we choose to be obedient to the will and the Word of God; we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We actually become a part of the "family" of God; we become "mother" sister" and "brother" to the Lord.
We enter into "communion" with the Trinitarian God, through Him.
We enter into the Communion of His Saints.
All Saints of God, Pray for us.
Novena Prayer to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth
Beloved Father, through the life, death and resurrection of your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, we have become your adopted sons and daughters.
Through Baptism we are now members of His Body, the Church, which is Your family.
Our Savior Jesus taught us that whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother. We thank you that promise includes each one of us.
As members of the family of Jesus we are now reunited to you, in Him. Through Baptism we have become adopted sons and daughters in your Beloved Son.
We now turn to you in prayer, through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit as OUR FATHER, ABBA.
We pray that, by the power of your Holy Spirit, you would raise up in our midst holy men, women and children, in every Nation, culture and walk of life.
Men, women and children who are so conformed to your Son Jesus that they make Him known by their words, deeds and life of love and sacrificial service.
Men, women and children who are saints for this urgent hour.
Men, Women and children who manifest the power of heaven on earth. Who continue the ministry of Jesus, your Son and our Savior, through signs of the kingdom to come.
May these holy men and women multiply - providing leaders and servants for a New Missionary Age of the Church.
And, we pray for ourselves and our families, that we could grow closer and closer to you, every day, that we would be transformed by your grace and our free cooperation with your grace - Empowered by your Holy Spirit to become new creations in Jesus Christ.
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