daily biblical sermons

It is better to have faith in Christ and put it into practice than to be his mother
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Saturday, 27th Week of the Year, October 14, 2023
Joel 14:12-21, Psalm 96 (97), Luke 11:27-28

Biblical citations are from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“As he [Jesus] said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:27-28).



We are often like this woman who praised Jesus’ mother for having given birth to such a wonderful man. We can sometimes think like her – wouldn’t it have been wonderful if we were in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus and saw together with the shepherds “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:13-14)?



We wonder what it would have been like to have been in the stable with Mary and Joseph when she gave birth to Jesus, “and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7). And we may wonder what a blessing it would have been to have been in their home in Nazareth with the child Jesus growing up, and then to have been among the crowds who actually saw the Son of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ walking about and heard the tone of his voice and saw the expression on `his face as he taught the beautiful things that are written in the Gospels.



Wouldn’t it have been marvelous to have seen the star that indicated to the Magi the birth of a great king and to have traveled with them until the star stood still “over the place where the child was” and to have seen them prostrate themselves on the ground in front of Mary’s child, worship him, and present him with gifts, “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11)?



But alas we were born in the twentieth or twenty-first century, two thousand years distant from these blessed events. And yet Jesus consoles us today by telling us that it is more blessed to hear the word of God and keep it than even to have been his mother who conceived him in her womb and nursed him at her breasts.



This might be hard for us to believe. How, we might think, could hearing the word of God and keeping it be more blessed than actually giving birth to the Son of God, nursing and raising him – but that is what Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).



So we are consoled even though we may still long to have been there ourselves, especially now that we are approaching Advent and Christmas when the most beautiful mysteries of our faith are recalled, presented, and celebrated – and we all long to see these things. But we are consoled by being told that we can be even more blessed by hearing God’s word and keeping it.



It may be hard to believe that hearing God’s word and keeping it can be greater than actually being present at all those blessed events of our Savior’s life, but that is what Jesus tells us today. And we have to believe that it is true and follow-through ourselves on what he says.



Why is it so blessed to hear God’s word and keep it? Well, to keep God’s word means first of all to believe in it, to put our faith in it, and then put it in practice by doing good works in accord with God’s will. This is what makes us truly blessed, even more blessed than Mary herself in being the mother of the Son of God.



What happens when we hear God’s word, believe it, and keep it? What does God’s word primarily tell us? It tells us about salvation, how we are saved. If only we believe in what the word tells us we will experience that salvation, we will be filled with God’s blessing, grace, and new life. We will be filled with God’s own righteousness; and then by putting it in practice by living a good life in accord with God’s will, we will grow in holiness.



How is it that hearing and keeping God’s word makes us righteous with the righteousness of God himself? St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, saying, “And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he [Jesus] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Colossians 1:21-23). God makes us righteous with the righteousness of God himself by transforming us from rebels who did evil deeds and revolted against God into new people who are reconciled to God in Christ’s own body of flesh by his death.



But how is it that Christ has reconciled us to God by his death and made us “holy and blameless and irreproachable before him” (Colossians 122)? It is because “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). That means that he died in vicarious punishment for our sins. We deserve to die in punishment for our sins, but Christ took our place and died instead of us for our sins so that we would not have to die forever in hell in punishment for them.



When we put our faith in Christ, God sees that our sins have been expiated and paid for by his death. So he sees that we are without the guilt of sin and without the need to be punished by death for our sins, because God’s own Son took our place and suffered our punishment for our sins for us – he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities that we might be healed.



We only need to put our faith in him and continue in that faith stable and steadfast. Then we are presented holy, blameless, and irreproachable before God. God considers us as righteous and reckons to us his own righteousness, because of our faith in his Son, whose death paid for our sins.



This is what is so blessed about hearing the gospel, putting our faith in it, and living according to it. The gospel is the good news of our salvation. We are now righteous people. We who were once ungodly sinners destined for hell to pay for our sins are now regarded as righteous with the righteousness of God himself, which he reckons to us by our faith in his Son, because of his vicarious death on the cross in punishment for our sins.



It is no wonder, then, that Jesus tells us not to regret that we were not Jesus’ mother or foster father. Do not regret that you have not seen him in the flesh, because “blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). Let us then rejoice in the word of God that makes us blessed, righteous, and holy in his sight.


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