Daily Reflection – 9/24/19
The mother of Jesus and his brothers 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.”(Luke 8:19-21)
Today’s Gospel is one of Jesus’ most important teachings. It challenges us to examine the core of our societal beliefs. It touches on a subject that most hold sacred – family.
Let’s look at the backdrop behind the teaching. At some point during his ministry, Jesus was teaching in a home or other building. The crowds pressed in, leaving no room for any other people to draw near to Jesus. Then, unexpectedly, Jesus’ mother and brothers came so see him. But they were not able to do so because of the crowd. So, somebody told Jesus that his mother and brothers were outside.
Jesus lived in a culture that deeply valued family. Thus, everybody gathered around Jesus would have expected him to either go outside to meet them or ask some of the crowd to make room. But Jesus used this occasion to say something that would have shocked his listeners: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear God’s word and obey it” (8:21). Jesus was saying that the bonds of fellowship in the hearing and doing of God’s Word are even more important than the bonds of family. That would not have increased Jesus’ popularity, either with his family or with most of the crowd, though it would have encouraged those among his followers who had left their families in order to join his kingdom ministry.
The dominant culture of America is not like that of Jesus. Although you can find “family first” subcultures, especially among certain ethnic groups. If anything, we can be so cut off from our families that we might need encouragement to honor our parents and love our siblings by spending some time with them. Many are challenged as parents age because the immediate family is of prime concern and ageing parents are a concern and a psychological intrusion into the boundaries of the immediate family.
Reflect then on the bold command of this Gospel because it redefines the concept of family and issues a concept that many find not only challenging but intrusive. The true family has God as its Father and whose children are those “who hear the word of God and act on it.” The true family is the family of God, the church, the body of Christ. The family is not first and foremost determined by bonds of earthly kinship, but rather by the bonds of spiritual kinship formed by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection for us and our salvation.
Jesus not only redefines the meaning of family. He also tells us that this new identity, this new creation, has great implications for our life in community as the people of God. We are no longer defined by earthly bonds of blood; we are now defined by the blood of Christ shed for us, the body of Christ broken for us. We are defined by the cross of Christ, and we are identified with Christ by the way we carry not only our own crosses but the way we help carry the crosses of our spiritual brothers and sisters.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, thank you for the privilege and honor of being one of your brothers. I’d be happy just to be your follower, your servant. But you have chosen to value me as if I were part of your own family. Let me live my life valuing and living as one caring member of your spiritual family.
To truly join Jesus’s family, it takes more than just belief in the truth of Jesus and salvation. These readings are God’s calling for all of us to make the decision to join God’s family through action; but not just any action. The decision to accept the mercy and salvation offered to us by God must be reflected by living the Word of God. The Jews at the time of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles in the Gospel, lived in such a way. They heard what God said and acted on it. They are the examples we have to follow. We must do the same if we truly want to join in God’s family and receive his salvation.