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‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’

September 25, 2012
Below you will find the homily that Archbishop Richard Smith, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave this morning during the Plenary Assembly's morning mass.
Like many of you I have succumbed to the temptation to use a mobile device for communications. Mine has a feature called "auto-correction". When I am composing emails or texts, the software will attempt to guess what I am trying to say and then complete the word, often substituting something entirely other than what I intended to write. If I do not review the text prior to clicking "send", I could find myself sending messages which could raise a few eyebrows.
Hearing God's word and doing it. We cannot do the word of God without hearing it correctly. This issue is hugely important because Jesus links the doing of God's Word with the gift of communion with him: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." Therefore, we who are called to announce the Gospel need to be attentive to any "auto-correction" that is taking place, either in our own annunciation of God's Word or in its reception by those who hear us.
There is a lot of pressure for such auto-correction. It can arise internally, where the abiding effects of original sin strive to push us away from obedience to God's Word toward the doing of our own. There is also great external pressure from a culture that glories in the self and presumes to change the definition of words to accord with self-interest. Thus it is that for the Gospel word "truth", auto-correction will substitute "opinion"; for freedom, license; for justice, vengeance; for joy, pleasure; and so on. It is difficult to overstate the tragedy of this. God's Word - and only God's Word - leads to life. The substitution of any other word robs us of it.
If I want to stop the auto-correction on my mobile device, I simply go into "Settings" and turn it off. However, to bring an end to the auto-correction of God's Word, a complete system reset is necessary, what in more biblical terms we would call a change of heart. The reading from Proverbs describes that transformed heart as one which is humble, receptive, and other-focused, particularly toward the poor. Such a heart, we are told, is "a stream of water in the hand of the Lord", fully compliant to the divine will, entirely obedient to God's Word.
Only when we are governed by such a heart will our impulses to auto-correction be stilled. This is the heart we all continually seek, knowing that it can be ours only by God's gift. That gift is precisely what is on offer here in the Eucharist, where our hearts are united to that of the Lord. May we each be fully open to the transformative grace he wills to bestow upon us, such that we will hear his word correctly, do it with fidelity, and thus know the joy of being his "mother and brothers".
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