Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.

“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea” ~ Dylan Thomas

Gospel text (Mt 11:20-24): While Jesus was still talking to the people, his mother and his brothers wanted to speak to him and they waited outside. So someone said to him, «Your mother and your brothers are just outside; they want to speak with you». Jesus answered, «Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?». Then He pointed to his disciples and said, «Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother».

In today’s Gospel, which describes an event when Jesus’ mother and "brothers" (for clarification - the term brother is used figuratively not literally in the gospel) wanted to speak with him. His response to their request seems rather rude. He answered them asking "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Jesus seems to disregard his mother and instead to prioritize the bond among those who follow God’s will: "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." Like with many of Jesus’ shocking statements, he wants to teach us something, namely that all those who try their best to follow his teaching – which is synonymous with God’s will – share a common bond that is stronger than blood relationships and goes beyond the boundaries of blood relationships.

But, who was ever more willing to abide by God's will than Mary? «‘I am the Lord's servant’, Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said’» (Lk 1:38). This is why, St. Augustine says that Mary, first accepted God's word with a spirit of obedience and, only afterwards, she conceived it in her womb for the Incarnation. The first one to love is always our Lord (cf. 1Jn 4:10). Mary proves it when she says: «For He has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness» (Lk 1:48). In God's eyes our own lowliness is evident; but He wants to magnify us, to sanctify us.

As followers of Jesus, we are united with people from all walks of life, from every nation, from different ethnic groups. We have a common bond that is rooted in our commitment to follow God’s will. Like in a blood family, we are expected to support each other and be available for each other in times of need. Like in a blood family, we may not always get along well with our brothers and sisters in faith but we nevertheless belong together. The way we express this common bond differs from the way blood relatives are there for each other. Perhaps we personally know some who attend the same parish or belong to the same faith-group, but we will never see most members of God’s family face-to-face. Thus, the dynamics of supporting each other are different from a blood family: Perhaps we need to support our sister parish in a developing country. Perhaps we need to pray for a diocese which faces the threat of political persecution. Perhaps we need to lobby with others so that our political and economic leadership changes policies and practices which contradict God’s will.

Today’s Gospel reading challenges us to reflect on the importance of the common bond of faith, asks us to strengthen our commitment to our worldwide faith family, and motivates us to be creative in finding ways to support our brothers and sisters through faith.

NOTE: If any reader of this reflection is confused as to the phrase "Jesus' brothers". Please understand that Catholics believe (and so do I) that the Blessed Mother was a VIRGIN both BEFORE and AFTER the birth of her ONLY son Jesus (the Christ). The below two links lay it out very clearly and plainly



The only "blood relative" Jesus had was that of his Mother (he came from her virgin womb) and when the term "brothers" is used in the gospel it refers to - "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother" (Matthew 11:24) . For example, when I call an old college friend, I usually refer to him as "my brotha".

If anyone wants to discuss this more in-depth, please speak to me directly. I will be happy to have a friendly discussion


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