Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today’s Gospel invites us to ponder the question, “Who are my brothers and sisters?” Questions of family have always been important, but were particularly so in Jesus’ time. Because the ancient Jews lived in harsh climates and a world with foreign political boundaries, families formed the rock and center of life. When Jesus challenged the makeup of his family, he challenged the deepest social fabric of his time.
Although Jesus challenged the social norm of family, he did not reject it. Rather, he built upon an already solid foundation. He broadened the common understanding to demonstrate the awesome reach of God’s love and goodness. Rather than contain the fraternal love of God to an immediate nuclear family, Jesus shared the Good News with all who do the will of the Father. Although this message of openness may seem fluffy to our modern ears, Jesus’ statement bore amazing implications—families took special care, supporting each other economically, socially, and physically. Jesus’ compassion demonstrates the beautiful and awesome tenderness and self-sacrifice of God.
Despite its brevity, the Gospel asks questions that require depth—How do we act with love and mercy toward our brothers and sisters? Do we consider others our siblings, or are we sometimes too guarded with our love? Do we work for solidarity and peace, a sense of fraternal love in our world? Perhaps a quote from Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we celebrate today, can guide our thoughts for the day: “How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God.”
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.
Holy God, you have made us. Red, yellow, brown, white and black, tall and short, fat and thin, rich and poor, young and old—all are your children.
Teach us to cooperate rather than to compete, to respect rather than to revile, to forgive rather than to condemn. Jesus turned from no one. May we learn, like him, to be open to the share of the divine that you have implanted in each of our hearts. And may we forge a bond of love that will make a living reality of the unity we profess to believe.
—The Christopher Prayer BookPlease share the Good Word with your friends!