This Sunday’s passage from the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 3, is so rich with good news it is difficult to focus on just one element.  As I reflect on the passage, I focus on the last verse.  Jesus says, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  I ask myself, “Do I really believe and understand what Our Lord is saying in these few words?” I have to acknowledge that I must seek to deepen my belief and further develop my understanding.  As is the case with other passages, some people have pointed to this particular passage and said that it proves that our Catholic tradition of honoring Mary as Jesus’ mother is misplaced. But our tradition guides us to a deeper understanding.  The passage reminds us that we honor Mary precisely because she “does the will of God.”  The wondrous good news of this is that, as brothers and sisters in the Lord who “do the will of God,” we, too, can share in the heavenly life where the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen.

Although, this passage has deep theological teachings, the good news I hear is astonishingly simple but not easy.  How do we enter into the household of God?  How do we fulfill our destiny as God’s creations made in His image? How do we share in God’s family of everlasting love?  We accomplish all of this by doing God’s will and not our own.

As I write, my mind immediately jumps to the great challenge contained in this good news.  At each mass throughout the world, in whatever language the people gathered together speak, pray the words “Thy will be done;” however, the great challenge is to really live these words and embrace them in every aspect of our lives.  As your bishop, I am challenged to ask myself, “Is this God’s will or my will?” Each of us must ask this question of ourselves.  When we sin, whether mortally or venially, the root of the sin is choosing to do our will instead of God’s. Our great challenge is to always live according God’s will.

Let us pray that, as individuals, as families, as Church, as nations and as God’s people throughout the world, we may truly seek to embrace the Will of God and to know that, in doing so, we are welcomed into His family of everlasting life.

By Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

Consistent with the command from the Spirit for St. Philip the Evangelist to teach the Ethiopian in the chariot, Bishop Joseph Strickland announced that the Diocese of Tyler would be "a teaching diocese." In his Constitution on Teaching the Catholic Faith, he founded the St. Philip Institute and charged it providing the parishes of the diocese with the materials, expertise, and support to perform the mission of teaching as outlined in this Constitution. "The Spirit said to Philip, 'Go and join up with that chariot.' Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' He replied, 'How can I, unless someone instructs me?' So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him." –Acts 8:29-31