The gospel scene in today’s liturgy presents an odd picture at first blush. It takes place during Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee. The mother of Jesus and “his brothers” arrive at the place where he is preaching and teaching the people. The family sends in word and the crowd around Jesus told him they were there but he asks them enigmatically, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And he looks at those around him and he says, pointing to the people he was teaching, “Here are my mother and my brothers.”
We wonder what this is all about. Is he denying his relationship with his kin? What must they have thought about a response from Jesus like this? As odd as Jesus’ response seems to be in this story, his object is not to belittle Mary or his brothers. We need to look deeper and elsewhere to discover an invitation to intimacy with Jesus.
He had said that “whoever does the will of God” is my brother and sister and mother. In other words there is something even more then kinship with Jesus at stake here. One becomes family with Jesus by seeking and doing the will of God.
The seeking and doing God’s will is what Jesus’ own life is all about. I establish a “family” relationship with Jesus by imitating him in his desire to do God’s will. I become a brother or a sister or a mother to Jesus – I become “family” with him – by doing God’s will.
What an excellent formula this is for us as we grow as men and women of faith. The closer I come to Jesus the more intimately connected with him I become. How does this intimacy come about? By discovering my deepest desires and acting out of them I come into the inner circle of Jesus’ family. The Holy Spirit is the source of these desires and helps me to put them into practice through service of others.
Lord, my God, teach me what it is that I need to do today that will lead me to the kind of brotherhood with Jesus that the gospel encourages. Lead me to be open to do your will and to live intimately with my brother Jesus. Let me be attentive to the Spirit who invites me into such intimacy with Jesus.
By Tom Shanahan