O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
defend your Church from all false teaching
and give to your people knowledge of your truth,
that we may enjoy eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed are those whose way is pure,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies
and seek him with their whole heart,
Those who do no wickedness,
but walk in his ways.
You, O Lord, have charged
that we should diligently keep your commandments.
O that my ways were made so direct
that I might keep your statutes.
Then should I not be put to shame,
because I have regard for all your commandments.
I will thank you with an unfeigned heart,
when I have learned your righteous judgements.
I will keep your statutes;
O forsake me not utterly.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 8.19-21
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
This is the word of the Lord.
Jesus’ earthly mission is in full swing. He is travelling and teaching and healing. It is not difficult to imagine that as his ‘fame’ grew, as more and more people clamoured to be near him, his own family felt increasingly distanced from him. And that is where we are today. The crowds are hemming him in and his family cannot get anywhere near him. Then comes an interesting exchange. Someone recognized Jesus’ close family and let him know that they were waiting outside. Rather than leaping up and rushing out to see his mother and his brothers, Jesus spoke in a way that seemed to deny their kinship.
Of course, this is not the message of today’s reading. Jesus’ words are emphasizing that his relationship with humanity is not confined to interaction with the tiny unit we call a family. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was in relationship with God from before the moment of creation: Jesus is in the most intimate of relationships with God the Father. Given that divine relationship, we should not be surprised to hear Jesus say that he has kinship with all who live their lives as children of God. Jesus and his true followers share in that most precious of relationships.
In our very human lives there is sometimes the sadness of estrangement. That estrangement from those who should be closest to us is often rooted in various forms of betrayal: betrayal of trust, betrayal of respect, betrayal of confidence, betrayal of anything we hold dear in our relationships with others. It is possible that Mary and the rest of the family felt like that when Jesus declared all people to be in an intimate relationship with him. But … rather than feeling estranged they should have felt proud that ‘their’ Jesus was being true to his mission on earth. Jesus, the Son of God, is opening his arms to embrace all who come to him in response to hearing God’s word.
In this short passage we are being challenged to enter into the most intimate of relationships with God. We are being challenged to set aside personal needs and to live out our lives as children of the One God, who is our common Father and protector.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to God, who loves all people as a mother loves her children.
We give thanks for the example of Mary, mother of Jesus. We pray that our spiritual mother the Church may follow her in humility, trust and love.
Soften with a mother’s gentleness all the hardness of human hearts. May the Holy Family of Nazareth bring blessing wherever people live together. Draw all races and nations to be one family in your love.
We pray for all mothers, especially those in our own and our local families. Give them the unfailing love that Mary gave Jesus, and uphold them in times of anxiety and distress.
Have mercy on mothers who suffer for themselves or for their children, through sickness, misfortune or human cruelty. Give them the strength of your presence which comforted Mary in her sorrow.
Because your love is more constant than the love of any human mother, we pray with confidence for the repose of all who have died in the faith of Jesus Christ, Son of Mary and Son of God.
Seeking to have faith as little children, we offer our prayers through Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the week
you have taught us to pray to you as ‘Our Father’:
help us to see the world through your eyes,
and to love our neighbours with your love.
Show us how we can share with them
the knowledge and joy of our faith,
that they may be brought closer to you,
and enjoy the perfect freedom of your kingdom.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and our God.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
You’re my Friend and you’re my Brother,
even though you are a king.
I love you more than any other,
so much more than anything.
You alone are my strength, my shield,
to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship you.
Martin J. Nystrom (b. 1956)