"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

4th Centenary of St Francis de Sales (1567-1622): "Cor Ad Cor Loquitor," "Heart Speaks To Heart"

would like to take the theme of belongingness. What does it mean to really belong to a family, a group or congregation? The gospel today, however, has some difficulty of sorts because it seems what the people see in Jesus is that he does not belong to his family. The gospel of John says “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). In today's gospel we see a crowd seated around Jesus who tell him "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” In the same chapter, Mark already says what was running in the minds of the relatives of Jesus, I qoute, "When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind'" (Mk 3:20-21). If I am going to make a sketch or a Composition of Place of the gospel scenery, the arrangement would be like this. First there is Jesus at the center and most likely some of the apostles are with him at the center, then a crowd of people form a circle around them. This crowd is sitting nearest to Jesus like an encircling barrier. They are so close with no physical distancing even. Crowds in this case could be dangerous as it could lead to a stampede. Mark recounts a similar scene of a crowd milling around Jesus that made it impossible for Jesus and his apostles even to eat. That was how close they were, e.g., like a sandwich. I will not be surprised to hear a report that one of the followers of Jesus choked to his death. I remember the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" portraying Jesus almost choking to death while he cures a sea of sick people that are rushing and scrambling to get ahead at the expense of another.

For my second point, let us evaluate various interpretations and even conflicting conclusions that often arise from the gospel scenery. There are varying conclusions like Jesus's disregard of the people who stood outside the inner circle. Those who were outside included Jesus's own family. Some conclusions even go to the extent that Jesus is unappreciative of his mother. Were these the only possible conclusions? Each time I guide my 30-Day retreatants in contemplating this gospel, I tell them to be open to other conclusions. When confusions arise like this, find out first who is speaking for whom in the bible. Mary did not speak a word nor any of the other relatives. They were a victim of gossip and hearsay. No wonder in contemplation we have to go to the heart of the characters. I tell my retreatants to go to the heart of Mary, and listen to her as a mother would speak to her son or daughter. Almost all my retreatants would say that there is no barrier like what the crowd were saying. Mary was not possessive of Jesus. They were an inclusive family, a family where everyone could feel he or she belongs. Mary knew this since day one when the Angel Gabriel announced to her that her son "will be a great man, and he’ll be called the son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever. His kingdom will never come to an end" (Lk 1:32-33).

For the third and last point, we go to Francis De Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, (21 August 1567—28 December 1622). Pope Francis preached about him during his General Audience last December 28 which marked the fourth centenary of his death. The Pope said that "we can take a cue from some of his thoughts. He wrote a great deal about Christmas." “Cor ad Cor Loquitur,” a Latin phrase meaning “Heart speaks to Heart,” was used by St Francis de Sales to one of his spiritual directees. This rings a bell for those who are familiar with Ignatian spirituality specifically the Ignatian Colloquy. St Francis de Sales had Fr Antonio Possevino of the Society of Jesus as his spiritual director. Another saint who also used the Latin phrase was St John Henry Newman. He used it as his episcopal motto.

There are times when words fail to communicate the message of the heart. This is the case of the crowd speaking on behalf of Jesus's family. Where language through words ends, the language of the heart begins, Cor ad Cor Loquitor, the perfect model I believe is always the BVM, the one who ponders everything through the heart. Mary's quiet countenance or meekness, was more powerful than any theologian's voluminous work. Her silence accomplished so much more. Why so? Because she spoke volumes through her heart and listened to Jesus through her heart.

Lord, forgive us for disregarding our hearts, which you have wonderfully and fearfully created in us. You are a God with a heart too for you desire and delight in us. May we cultivate a similar closeness to you through Jesus's closeness and belongingness to his mother and to us his brothers and sisters. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. When Jesus said "Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’ He is describing his mother..Tama po ba ?

    1. Thank you for your question. Yes you are right in finding such connection in those words of our Lord. He describes his mother and elevates his mother because through her, e.g., if we live ourselves like the BVM who said her "fiat" or "be it done" to the angel of God, you and me are brother or sister to Jesus! GBU!😇


Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest in the above post. When you make a comment, I would personally read it first before it gets published with my response.