Tuesday, July 23, 2013

“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. - Pope John Paul II

Gospel text: ( MT 12:46-50)
While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you.”
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
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.”

We today tend to think of membership in the Church like membership in a political party or a professional association. That’s quite wrong. You can opt out of those memberships, change your affiliation. But you can’t opt out of your membership in family. It’s a fundamentally different kind of thing. We’re all vivified by the same Holy Spirit. Once baptized, while we can be a poor Christian in practice, we can never again be a non-Christian – just as we can never be a non-member of our blood families.

There’s opportunity here for dozens of Reflections, and each of us needs to ponder what that expanded kinship means for us. Here is one example to get you thinking: When we gather for the Mass and receive the Eucharist, do we see ourselves as family members coming together for a family celebration (birthday, anniversary, Thanksgiving . . .), or are we more like customers entering a restaurant to satisfy our individual hunger needs. Do we sit apart from the others in a kind of chicken pox model of church, or do we gather around the table of the Lord as a family would? It is true that sometimes we need private time with God – need it desperately in fact. But we’re all still family – Jesus’ brothers and sisters. We have kinship obligations to one another. This begins with a warm smile directed at the person sitting next to you in the pew on Sunday. As Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” So smile at your brother and know that you both have the same Father in heaven. Because God is not just “my” Father, he is “Our Father”…………………

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