Saturday, October 12, 2013



The title of my homily for this 27th Saturday in Ordinary Time  is, “Hearing Isn’t Enough!”

That’s a basic theme we know and have heard many, many times.


Last night when I heard today’s short gospel, my first reaction was, “Uh, not enough - not enough for a homily.”

So I read the gospel again - and the second time around the word near the end of the  gospel intrigued me: “observe” - as opposed to just “hearing” the word of God.

This woman from a crowd of listeners to Jesus is grabbed or fascinated with what Jesus is saying - so she praises his mother.

Isn’t that fascinating? Was she thinking of her own children - wishing they could speak and teach and say the wise and wonderful things Jesus was saying?  Was she thinking: wow his mother must be so proud of her son?

Jesus is not putting down his mother - nor this woman - but he’s simply saying, “Hearing isn’t enough!” You have to do more than just listen. You have to go beyond the hearing - to the next step - the next level.  But how to describe that?


I began trying to remember the different translations and ways this message has been presented that I have heard down through the years.

In today’s gospel, Jesus replied to the admiring woman, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Instead of  the word “observe” - I’ve heard other English words,  “keep” or “obey” as well as “put it into practice.”

I looked up what the Greek word was that is used to translate “observe” and found it to be “phulasso” - P H U L A S S O

That Greek word is also used in Luke 2:28 - when the shepherds -  who come to Bethlehem to see the new born baby - those shepherds are said to “P H U L A S S O” - the sheep - translated usually “to watch over them, to keep watch, to protect the sheep.”

That certainly is more than just saying observe.  “I watch over the sheep” or “I guard the sheep - and Jesus will even say, “I’ll lay down my life for my sheep.” That’s more than just observe.


By that tiny bit of research this Gospel text opened up for me. Then it hit me loud and clear that hearing is not enough.

We all know the person who is very noisy or they leave the milk out or they don’t pick up after themselves or they never empty the dishwasher and we voice our complaint to them. Then they say, “I hear you.” But then they don’t do anything about it.

How many times has the always late person said, “I’m sorry!” And the family or group complains or the other complains, “You’re always late and you keep me or us waiting.” And they say, “I hear you.” Then they are late the next time and the time after that and the time after that ad nauseam.

Hearing is not enough. An “I’m sorry” is not enough. A smile is not enough.


Back to Mary - the woman who gave Jesus birth, milk, life and wisdom, she hears the word of God - questions it - ponders it.

Then she says, “Yes - be it done to me according to your word.” 

Mary models the message of this homily - “Hearing is not enough!” Mary becomes pregnant with it. Mary - when she hears her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant and is older - Mary goes into the hill country - south - in haste to help her cousin.

Hearing is not enough. Talk is easy. Words can demand work. Words must become flesh. It’s the old song line: “Don’t talk about love. Show me.”

Quote for Today - Saturday October 11, 2013

"Everyone knows a good deal about one child - himself [or herself]"

Sidney M.B. Coulling, professor of English, Washington and Lee University, in The Privilege of Teaching, Morehouse-Barlow, 1962