Tue, September 25, 2018 - Family and Familiarity
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."
No human relationship expresses a richer bond than that of a family. The fact that God, by becoming man, enters into such a human family is already difficult to fathom; we feel the overwhelming beauty of it when contemplating Jesus’ hidden life with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. What a privilege for the sacred couple to live with the Lord over the time span of those long, intimate years! Oh, to form a family with Jesus!
In this light, Jesus’ words in today's gospel shouldn't direct our attention to the question whether He was downgrading His mother's and relatives' role in His life. Instead, marvel at how He is upgrading the existence of the whole Church by naming us all His family! And He is upgrating the value of prayer. For to hear the Word of God and to act on it, is exaclty what we seek to do in every mental prayer. Praying, therefore, is equal to enjoying Christ's company in a family spirit, a reunion among beloved, quality time with the Son of God.
It is one thing though to be called a family, another to really be familiar with someone. What makes the connection with your siblings or parents so unique is the deep knowledge about each other combined with a loving acceptance based on, and sometimes despite of, that knowledge. You don't have to “earn” being a member of the family, nor do you have to “ensure to remain” it. You simply are.
This is the privileged relationship into which Jesus invites you. To not simply be called His family, but really become it. He indicates what it is that generates that familiarity with Him, as strong and unconditional as the bonds of the blood: doing God's will. Does that not entail that, in contrast to the aforementioned unconditionality, Jesus’ family offer is conditioned? Well, on the one hand, one can't “earn” a family; on the other hand, being part of a family can become hollow if you cease to know each other. In fact, among the relatives that call upon Jesus were probably those who had declared earlier that He had lost His mind. They were called His family, but had lost the familiarity, that loving knowledge.
Jesus invites you as close to His heart as one can imagine. Like a mother with her child, He offers love regardless of how worthy one may be of it. Like a son with his mother, make sure in turn not to ruin the delicate dynamism of that unconditionality. Through baptism you belong to His family. Through prayer you cultivate the familiarity. Renew your resolve to not become that unfamiliar family member. Instead, hear God's word and act on it so as not to alienate yourself from Him. Pray.