Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Family of Jesus

"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
Matthew 12:48

This has become a popular proof text among those who wish to disprove the perpetual virginity of Mary; that is, those who do not believe that Mary remained a virgin for all of her life. It's a passing point and not really the point of this passage. The Church has taught from earliest times that Mary was always a virgin. There was no dispute about it until after the Protestant Reformation 1500 years later. The Church explained the presence of brothers as being more distant relatives, as anyone of kin was referred to as "brother" in New Testament times. But the point of the passage is something else.

Jesus is telling us here that there are no "perks" positions. Even His own mother and brothers did not have a free pass to heaven. If they did not obey the will of God, they would be lost like any other. Jesus is telling us that we have no reason to rely on anything else but the grace of God. It doesn't matter if we have family connections, or we are associated with a prominent church or clergyman. We all stand on equal footing before God.

The question Jesus raises in today's Gospel is very appropriate for our own times. Who are the mother, and brothers of Jesus? Our Lord answers His own question: "For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother," (v. 50). So the question for each one of us is, do I really do the will of God?

We are not talking here, of course, about discerning one's vocation, or various things we are praying to understand. Rather, we are referring to the issue of obedience to what we know is the will of God. Do we obey the Word and the teaching of the Church? If we do, then our Lord is telling us we are truly a member of His family.

This flies in the face of the modern notion that we are all God's children. It is true that we are all created by God and, therefore, rightfully belong to Him. But we become His children by birth- rebirth. When we are born of water and the Spirit, we become a child of God (Jn. 3:5). There are a few elements that go into such a birth. First, there is faith. Secondly, there must be a clear resolve to forsake sin and strive after holiness. Third, there is baptism. Finally, there is a willing submission to the Church, who guides and teaches us to live for God.

"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" It is a question worth pondering each day. Jesus continues to issue it in the hopes that many more will respond. Hopefully, each of us can answer with sincerity, "Here I am Lord. I will obey the Father. I will be a member of Your family."

1 comment:

Joni said...

I'm just getting caught up on all your new posts.

Thank you for giving of yourself to this task daily, my dear.