The Gospel according to Luke (8:19-21)
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
This is a tricky Gospel reading, for a couple of different reasons. First, we have Jesus, seemingly discounting the importance of His earthly family (the Virgin Mary and His “brothers”), and saying that the only thing that makes one a part of His family is to “hear the word of God and act on it.” And, second, as Catholics, we have the concern over Jesus having “brothers” at all, in light of our faith in Mary as perpetually virgin. I’m pretty sure I could spend a long time going over both of those issues, but I’ll just focus on the first one in this reflection.
To understand the scandal of that issue – Jesus seeming not to value His own family – we have to understand the society of first century Israel. To observant Jews, family was everything. A person was only known in relation to his or her family or lineage. A person with no family was worse than a nobody. How could Jesus just cast off His own mother that way? Thankfully, it’s not about that.
Jesus’ statement that being in His family is from those who “hear the word of God and act on it” is actually good news for you and me. It means that we (all of us) can be part of His family! We just have to be open to His word in our hearts and then go out and act on it, sharing His love and mission wherever we go. The converse, though, is also true – just because we grew up in a “good Catholic family” does not guarantee that we stay on the right path as a follower of Jesus. We have to do our best to live out our faith everyday, because that is what Jesus Himself did.
The bottom line is that we (you and me) are called to be part of that family. We are the “beloved disciple” we hear about in the Gospel of John. We are the ones who shine Jesus’ light by our lives, even as imperfect as each of us is. The good news is that we have each day to start again if we miss the mark in living that life of light. If yesterday was not a good day, why can’t today be a new beginning? As far as God is concerned, today *is* the new beginning. Let’s start on that path right now, shall we?
Action for the Day:
Be open today to “acting” on God’s word. What is He calling you to do in order to share His love and light with those you encounter today?
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