While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven 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
Passages in Scripture speak to the faithful in different ways at different times. Admitting this dynamic holds the original context of the passage in creative tension with the current pastoral needs of the Church and the world. In the first century Church, Jesus’ Gospel statement that membership in his family involves doing the will of his Father is a message of hope. The early Church struggled to find its identity amidst the Jewish religious communities since not all Christians belonged to God’s chosen people by hereditary descent.
Today, the Gospel speaks to our current interreligious, post-modern context, and invites us to work with all people of good will to build God’s Kingdom. Further, recent invitations from Pope Francis to evangelize the world remind us that those who do not share our religious identity are our sisters and brothers too. Like the early Church, our identity is still rooted in Jesus Christ, as we also remain open to embrace the fractious world beyond .
Whom do I call “sister” or “brother”? Does my sense of family extend to the whole Church? To the whole world? How do I balance the commitment to my hereditary family with service to the broader human family?
—Dano Kennedy, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.
Lord, let your Spirit awaken my soul to recognize my “sister” and “brother”. Let my sense of family extend to the whole Church and to the whole world. Help me to balance the commitment to my hereditary family with service to the broader human family.Please share the Good Word with your friends!