The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The souls of the wicked desire evil; their neighbours find no mercy in their eyes.
When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he casts the wicked down to ruin.
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.
The mother and brothers of Jesus came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Most of the sapiential literature, notably the Book of Proverbs, defers very little to religious authority; it is based on common sense and wisdom. What has succeeded for so many years, even centuries, has an exceptional power. It has no special set of prerequisites to understand its message. Just be open, honest, reflective, humble, strong, the basic qualities of human nature as it was originally created by God and as it has spread throughout the world. All the world knows and accepts the wisdom of Proverbs: The one who makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.
Whether we take a more mystical view of life, or the more "secular" way, Proverbs, we must keep a healthy openness to the real world and form ties with real people. Perhaps that was what Jesus meant in his enigmatic reply to his mother Mary and his brothers. It only seems a rejection of his relatives when he says, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it"; for elsewhere Luke shows Mary as the great hearer of the Word. But for us to know God's word we must be open to all who are sincere, virtuous, obedient and responsive to life.
We venerate Jesus as Lord and as Son of God, because so indeed he is. In this morning's gospel, however, Jesus identifies those who hear the word of God and put it into practice as his mother and brothers and sisters, as his family. In spite of his unique status and his unique relationship with God, Jesus wants to relate to us as family. He wants to call us brother and sister and for us to call him brother. For this to become a reality what he asks is that we hear the word of God and put it into practice. Jesus was completely given over to the word of God, to the will of God. He heard that word and took it in so completely that it shaped all that he said and did. John's gospel goes so far as to say that Jesus is the Word, the Word made flesh. The essence of our baptismal calling is to hear the word and to put it into practice. Like the seed that fell on good soil, we are to hear the word and take it to ourselves and yield a harvest through our perseverance. If we keep striving to listen to the word of God and so that it shapes who we are and what we do, then the Lord will delight in calling us family.