Scripture: Lectionary # 396. Exodus 14:21-15:1. Exodus 15:126.96.36.199.17.
Matthew 12: 46-50
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also his first and most faithful disciple.
She became his disciple through her strong and courageous risks of faith in
God and in her son, Jesus. Faith also was central to her consent to be the
mother of Jesus as we know from Luke’s Annunciation narrative (Luke
1:26-38). Through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit the Word of God
became her flesh. No other human person was involved in this Yes of Mary
and she alone is understood by all people to be the mother of Jesus. Her
motherhood and discipleship are anchored in her faith.
Matthew gives us an event in the active ministry of Jesus that is found in
Luke and Mark. There are however nuances in each of the traditions that
recalled this event. We focus today on that of Matthew our liturgical
reading from the Gospel. It involves the family of Jesus and discipleship
because Jesus in this pericope is speaking to his disciples while Mary
comes toward him where he is within a house. She is with her extended
family known in the Semitic world as “brothers and sisters” in a larger
sense than the literal meaning of those terms. This nuance is present in
Paul and in the other writings as well whenever we see the word brother and
sister in reference to Jesus. Only the Apocryphal writings will interpret
this differently than what we know through the living tradition given to us
from the beginning and continued especially in the Orthodox and Catholic
Jesus’ claim to be the Anointed One (the Messiah) is fostered by the
evangelists. It stems from his lineage seen through the role of Joseph in
our Gospel for this year, that of Matthew. Joseph is from the Davidic
lineage. Though there are some Fathers and scholars who say Mary is
likewise from that lineage, the texts seem to indicate that she is from the
priestly lineage of Levi and Aaron. We deduce this from the fact that
Zachariah and Elizabeth, her “cousins” or extended family are from the
Jesus addresses his disciples and tells them whoever does the will of the
heavenly Father is mother, brother, and sister to him. This may be a way
of Jesus telling us that all of us are called to be Jesus’ brothers and
sisters and to imitate his mother. We need not be Jewish to do this. The
important message is to do the will of God who is Jesus’ heavenly Father.
Mary is mother according to the knowledge we have from the Bible.
Historically, no other woman has made that claim. She alone is his parent
in the flesh. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John
1:14). In the spiritual sense Mary is the first, the foremost, and the most
faithful among his disciples as she lives this out through Jesus whole
historical life and even afterwards in his presence among us in the
community of disciples called the Church (Acts 1:12-14). She both hears
the word of God and puts it into action (Luke 8:19-21 and Luke 11:27-28).
Mary gives us the following challenge to our own daily call to discipleship
when she says, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 4-5). We are blessed
to be among his disciples and to have Mary both as our spiritual mother and
our leading model and mentor in the call to discipleship. Amen.