HOMILY- Proverbs 21: 1...13; Luke 8: 19-21

Mother of God, Mary

MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHERS ARE THOSE WHO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEP IT. This utterance of our Lord is one of a several sayings in today's readings which point to a mystical, transcendent level of existence that easily escapes our notice . Only if we become more sensitive to spiritual realities and pursue them when we receive some intimation of their existence will we suspect the fuller implications of these inspired texts and be led to meditate on them. Consider the opening two verses of today's first reading, taken from the Book of Proverbs: "Like the windings of a stream is the heart of the king in the hand of the Lord. He directs it where he will." And: "Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes; but it is the Lord who weighs hearts."

How hidden and subtle is the action of God upon our heart! It is so concealed from our ordinary consciousness that it can be denied to exist at all. Many, in fact, remain unconscious of this divine activity, and even conclude either that there is no God or that He is too distant to be inter ested in us. But there is another explanation which I propose is the true one. It is the fact that we are made in the image of God and so our higher faculties function the better in keeping with their constitution the more they come under the active influence of God's intervention, or are made to serve His purposes in spite of our self. And so it happens that what we experience as normal functioning is in fact the fruit, not only of our faculties, but also of the divine activity. All things are so made as to be most truly themselves in so far as they conform to His purposes, His guidance and His activity whether overt or hidden.

This is one of the mysteries suggested by the text referring to the sure and powerful turnings of the king's heart which seems on the surface to be subject to no other will than his own. Where as, in fact, he acts under the guiding hand of his Maker. However much counsel he obtains, however broad his experience, yet the fact remains that God is so much the master of events that He can and does lead even the king freely to choose what in fact is directed by His wisdom and providence. Behind this saying concerning the heart of the king- and, by implication, of every human person- is the conviction that we are most fully our self when, at the very center of our being, we are subject to the wise and loving activity of God. We are made for God in the very structure of our being and are always in fact serving His purposes whether wittingly or uncon sciously.

The second text is likewise suggestive of the same mysterious truth. "Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes; but it is the Lord who weighs hearts." No matter how fully we know our heart and weigh our decisions, yet their ultimate worth remains hidden to our judgment. There is something involved in all our choices and actions which is beyond our conscious knowing. We are engaged in a relationship with the infinite Being that is inescapable, and always opera tive. By virtue of our nature as free and intelligent persons we act and choose within a world that is permeated with the infinite and transcendent God. However sharp our awareness of this fact, yet the ultimate significance and worth of our deeds and thoughts remain fully known only to the One whose Being surpasses any knowledge we might possess of our actions and even of our self. The inference to draw from these considerations is that if we cannot determine the moral and spiritual worth of our own heart we must live by faith and trust in our Maker and our Judge. Reason is not enough to reveal to us God's activity in our world and in our own heart.

The greatest mystery of all concerning our being and our person is the fact that we stand in a personal, real communion with the transcendent Lord by virtue of the gift bestowed on

those who accept him in the obedience of faith. We belong to the glorified Christ more than to our self once we yield our trust and obedience to him. That is the assurance he himself gives us in today's Gospel. MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHERS ARE THOSE WHO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEP IT. As we offer this Eucharist today let us make it our resolve to keep this word of God alive in our spirit and to live by it in our life. We could have no stronger this assurance of the personal call to union with the Lord than that which Jesus himself gives us by these words. To belong to his intimate family, to share his presence, his thoughts and his desires is what he here promises those who live by his teachings. May we prove faithful to him, strengthened by these words, day by day throughout our life as we advance together on our way to their final realization in the kingdom of God the Father.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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