And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:49
How close Jesus wants to be with us! He deeply wants to be brother, sister, or even a mother to us. There is a beautiful little word in the Greek New Testament which is used 111 times called ideos. It means pertaining to oneself, one’s own; used universally, of what is one’s own as opposed to belonging to another. Discipleship means belonging to Christ as His very own.
Jesus speaks of His followers with great love: “when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own (ideos) who were in the world, he loved them to the end. “Jn 13:1. Do we honor Christ with our lips, but our heart far from Him?
Jesus proclaims in John’s Gospel: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own (ta ema). “He calls his own (ideos)sheep by name and leads them out.” Jn 10. Being a follower of Christ calls for an intensive relationship with Him! To miss this family closeness is to miss what is most beautiful in our faith! This is why the Church has always deeply respected the contemplative life. We all must have a contemplative side. Our religion is not something but Someone!
This close family relationship with Jesus uses many other examples. He calls Himself a bridegroom, a friend, a partner, living Bread to be eaten, and related by His precious Blood! The most frequent relational word Jesus uses is Father. Luke in chapter 15:30 the father is criticized for welcoming back home the prodigal child with the words “this son of yours”
There is a tendency to reduce Christianity to a mere moral system without a deep relationship with our Lord. As important as moral response is, it is not at the very heart of the Father’s intensions. “I know my own (ideos) and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jn 10:15. The Biblical “know” strongly emphasizes a deeply loving bond. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Eph 2:13
One of the saddest sentences of New Testament is: “He came to his own, (ideos) and his own people did not receive him.”Jn 1. We are called to a profound loving relationship with Christ!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.