Jesus did not respond this way to the woman as a reproof, and certainly not to dishonor His mother whom she had blessed. He was, rather, drawing the attention from things of this earth to God. He is calling us to “hear the word of God and keep it.”
Now, in the Gospel we preach, God has revealed the commitment He has to us. Jesus bore the cross of suffering and death, and with His own blood redeemed us to God, buying us back from sin and death. The risen Christ commands our commitment both as the God who formed us from the dust of the earth, and as the perfect Man who died for us. As God the Word He commands your commitment by His eternal and infinite power. As the perfect Man, He appeals to your hearts to return the commitment He has demonstrated. As your Creator He requires your commitment by right. As your Redeemer He has purchased it at great cost.
Unless we gather with Christ Himself, the words of St. Paul that urge us to walk as children of God, to live holy lives and to avoid the occasion of sin, might come across as boring clichés. They would fall flat without any power to convict the heart. They would be no more compelling than the saying of Mammy Yokum: “Good is better than bad because it’s nicer.” Who needs it? Unless we gather with Christ Himself, all His talk about spiritual warfare and driving out the power of evil becomes meaningless to us. For God delivers us from our enemies; but, He does not deliver us from our friends. If we make friends with evil, we will find ourselves destroyed by it.
“Walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
St. Paul’s words fall flat unless we are motivated by genuine faith and a radical commitment to the Lord Himself. Otherwise, they are just rules; “and rules” we like to tell ourselves, “are meant to be broken.” But, Paul is not writing this to people who lack the motivation of true faith. It is more than rules for the sake of rules. It is instruction on how to live for those who really are committed to Christ, and who want to know how to live out that commitment.
And, Christ’s words that instruct us to clutter our lives with the glorious clutter of true faith (not having our houses “swept and garnished” for the comfort of unclean spirits), above all to “hear the word of God and keep it,” offer only a passing interest to many people. They do not hold the attention of anyone whose form of godliness denies the power thereof.