August 5, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 11:27-28.
While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
This is an echo of Jesus’ words in the eighth chapter of Luke, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” His message is particularly pointed for our culture today, a culture that objectifies and exalts talented celebrities and vacuous personalities. Jesus did not seek glory or praise for himself. He was a genuine prophet, the voice of God. Neither he nor his mother were to be worshipped, only his Father. He came to serve, not to be served.
I have found myself getting swept up in the emotion of a moment or a hope that seems about to be fulfilled by a person — usually politicians like John and Robert Kennedy, or activists like Martin Luther King, or even religious like Mother Teresa or Pope Francis. But all of them are important only in so far as they are prophets giving voice to God’s word, only in so far as they move me to put God’s word into action, only in so far as they bring the kingdom of God closer to reality.
Jesus didn’t establish or foster a cult focused on himself. He always spoke and acted through his Father’s authority, he always diverted attention away from himself and toward his Father, he always gave thanks and praise for everything to his Father. The lesson to me is clear. Beware those who exalt themselves or allow others to exalt them. They are false prophets. There are no shortage of them; there never have been. My responsibility is always to listen to the word of God, take it in, and be faithful. That’s what is important, not the attractiveness of the person who may be delivering the message.