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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feast of Angela Merici (1474-1540)

Angela was orphaned at the age of ten. She lived with relatives but seeing the need for education among the poor she began to teach girls. Several of her friends joined her in this task. St. Ursula was patron of medieval universities and so they put themselves under her protection. They did not think of becoming a religious order; they did not take solemn vows, had no habit, no enclosure, no convent. They did not even live in community but only met for instruction and prayer. This "Company of St. Ursula" (known to us as the Ursulines) was officially recognized by Pope Paul III in 1544. Angela may not have been canonized, but she contributed much to the Church.

The gospel today has the mother of Jesus arriving with relatives to see Jesus but they are standing outside and cannot get to him. The crowd seated around Jesus told him, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you." But Jesus said to them, "Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Jesus lets us know that only those who do God's will have a claim to intimacy with him.

The Psalm response today is: "Here I am, Lord; I come to do thy will." It is a good refrain for us to use during the day.

Jesus came above all to do the will of the Father. If you have questions about the "brothers and sisters" of Jesus, know that tradition has it that these are not blood brothers and sisters. I once heard Raymond Brown, a great Scripture scholar, say that it would not bother his faith if someone proved that Mary had other children. The word for kinship is very ambiguous and sometimes even means those from the same village.

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