Saturday of the Twenty-seveth Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s brief, two-line gospel we listen as a woman calls to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus’ responds, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’” This is an invitation from Jesus to look beyond our familial relationship. It is important to love our Mother like Jesus did. But the challenge is whether we can build a familial relationship with our sister and brothers in Christ.
Jesus’ word in the Gospel reminds me of the story of the friendship between a political theorist and philosopher Isaiah Berlin and a Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova. Their friendship began on a night in which Berlin spent in Leningrad in 1945. In the first hour of their meeting, they talked about war experiences and British universities. By midnight, she told him about her childhood and her husband’s execution and she began reciting some of her own poems. By 4 am, they were talking about Pushkin, Chekhov, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky. They had read all the same things, knew what the other knew, and understood each other’s longings. Deeper and deeper they talked, opening their souls.
The friendship between Berlin and Akhmatova was formed immediately through intellectual, emotional and spiritual bonds. It is friendship and love between people who think that the knowledge is based on the great works of culture, emotional wisdom, and spiritual ambition. The issue is whether we can easily form a friendship with our fellow Christian because we believe in the Creed, Gospel, and, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.