In today’s Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus’ mother and relatives are asking for Him as He is addressing the crowds. When He is told this, He looks at the people around Him, and says, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Here are my mother and brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
For me, I have always read between the lines in this exchange, and that is because of how Mark sets this up. Earlier in the Gospel (Mark 3:20-21), Jesus’ family hears that the crowds around Jesus have gotten so big that it was impossible for He and the other disciples to eat. And when the family hears this, they decide to go get Jesus and bring Him home because they have figured that “He is out of his mind.”
So, when Jesus says what he says, I hear Him calling us to go beyond family and tribe, so to speak, and see each other as Jesus sees us. But I also imagine Jesus telling His family that He cannot go back with them. He has to keep doing what He is doing, speaking to crowds about the love of God, and working miracles of healing. This is for what He has been sent, and so He cannot return to a former life that would prevent Him from proclaiming the kingdom of God.
In many ways, we may be called to leave former ways of thinking and doing in order to fulfill the mission we have been given. May we see each other as mother, father, sister and brother, and may we come together to continue sharing the Good News we have in Christ.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.