Who Is Family to Me?
Luke 8:19-21 takes us to reflect on Jesus’ response when He was told that His mother and His brothers were there to see Him. The people who told Jesus that His mother and brothers were there wanting to see Him were apparently seeing them in the way we usually use group people into families – that we belong to a family defined by blood relations. But then Jesus’ response introduces us to the higher definition of what it is to belong to His family, and that is by hearing the word of God and then acting on it. Mary did give birth to Jesus and her blood and her genes coursed through Him, but Jesus’ response raised to the fore that quality that made her truly related to Him – she heard the word of God and then she acted on it by accepting the will of God and mediating through her acceptance the salvation of the whole world.
Jesus did say that He did not come to the world to bring peace, that He will divide mother against father, daughter against mother, father against son, meaning that the new order He brings with Him will challenge us to honor God above all things. It might mean giving up our affinity with our earthly families. Perhaps it is about challenging us to have a deeper conviction and deeper trust in God, so that we remain to be that link to God in our families. By obeying God’s word and acting on it, the possibility of being estranged from those we call family becomes real, but the bigger challenge is how to lead them to become a member in God’s family in a loving way. What do we do when a family member forces us to choose between living our faith or being cut off from them? What do we do when loving a daughter or a son means condoning difficult choices that they make, like committing an abortion or abandoning the faith? What do we do when loving a family member means condoning his criminal activities and ignoring the pain and danger he or she inflicts on other people? What do we do when we have to make difficult decisions about our children who have substance abuse and the ways we enable them? As the secular world is unrelenting in its attempt to redefine “family” and God Himself, we are called to lovingly remain committed to lift our earthly families up, and to continue to draw them toward the true definition of what it is to be a kin of Jesus – someone who hears the word of God, and acting on it.