In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the crowds when someone tells Him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you." And Jesus replies, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? And then Jesus points to His disciples and says, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."
When I reflect on this passage, I often wonder, what did Mary think of Jesus’ response? Scripture scholars are quick to point out that Jesus’ reply was not meant to be an insult to His mother or His family. Rather, Jesus seeks to expand our notion of who belongs to our family.
It’s important to have strong family ties. We want to have good relationships with our blood relatives, and it is difficult for us when that doesn’t happen for various reasons. At the same time, we are called to go beyond blood relations when it comes to sharing the love of God in Jesus Christ. We’re called to go beyond the boundaries of family or ethnic/cultural group or even nation when it comes to love. Jesus loves us without consideration of our origins or circumstances! He loves us without condition. But He challenges us that if we want to enter into a deep relationship with Him then we need to be willing to do God’s will in our lives. If we want to consider ourselves His sisters and brothers, then we need to do what He did, and surrender to His Father’s will.
May we seek God’s will in everything we say or do, in every way that we relate to others, and be part of Jesus’ family!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.