Written by SR. Rosemary, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092419.cfm
I enjoy seeing those ‘Ancestry.com’ commercials where someone has discovered their extended family tree and genealogy. They’re surprised and excited to learn their lineage. My favorite is the young woman who found out that a very, very distance cousin of hers was George Washington. She’s smiling proudly into the camera while holding a portrait of her ‘cousin George’!
In our gospel today, Jesus is making a point about who belongs to his family. It may sound a little disconcerting to us at first when Jesus was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they wish to see you.", and he replied: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." It’s not a response we would expect from Jesus…in fact, it seems a bit harsh and insensitive to our ears.
What Jesus was trying to teach us, however, is that our primary relationship in life is our relationship with God. This relationship supersedes the strongest of all family bonds. God gifted us with life at conception, so we belong to God before we belong to anyone else. Our life long identity is as a child of God, and in that communion, we are sisters and brothers to one another.
And just as all family relationships grow and develop, so do we in God. When Jesus said: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.", it was not meant to be a rebuke, but rather an invitation for us to grow and deepen our bond with God. Actually, Jesus is widening his family by encouraging his listeners and followers to hear and act on God’s word, and he is welcoming us into the same intimate relationship he has with his mother Mary.
Jesus’ message had an urgency then, and it still does today, about belonging to the reign of God and being members of his kingdom. Jesus is inviting us to listen to his word, pray over his word, and act on his word through living our lives in service to others.
Discovering and growing in God’s family is a lifelong process. But as we do so, confident in our being a child of God, we can proudly hold a picture of Jesus and invite others to meet our brother, and Lord, Jesus Christ.