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Jesus-followers who keep others from him: Here’s what the Gospel says


Brooklyn Museum

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 09/20/22

“The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd.”

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

I would like us to slow down as we read today’s short Gospel passage to explore three facets.

“The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd.”

This is not the first time in the Gospel that the crowds are said to prevent those who wish to meet Jesus from coming to meet him. The crowd paradoxically is made up of those who are listening to Jesus, those who sympathize with him, those who perhaps even consider themselves his disciples. It seems that the Gospel wants to suggest to us that there is a way of being a believer that prevents others from encountering Christ. When those who claim to be Christians do not use their life to help others to meet Christ, but rather prevent it with their way of being, with their selfishness, and with their bad example, this is something that cannot go without consequences.

The second aspect of the Gospel I’d like to explore is the intercessory prayer that reaches Jesus. “He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.’” Expressing our desire is always a good thing. It represents the first way of praying. In fact, praying means saying what we really care about. But prayer isn’t a demand, and much less is it magic; it’s just a desire, waiting for the gift of being taken seriously.

But the timing and manner of the response do not belong to us, “He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.’” Jesus is not rejecting his mother and relatives; he is simply saying that wherever there are people who listen to him and try to put into practice what he says, those people are already with him, even if they have the feeling that they are far away.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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