July 23, 2019
(St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious)
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.” Mt_12:46-50
In today’s Scriptures we see several different kinds of Relationships.
The Israelites, for example, were bound together in a Familial Relationship, as descendants of Abraham and Sarah. And yet, at the time of the Exodus, after 400-years had separated them from their familial ties to Jacob and his 12-sons, their relationship with the God of their forefathers, the God who directed the very lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was quite weak.
And now the strongest bond between the Israelites was the Experiential Relationship they shared, of slavery to Egypt. It was an experience that they all had in common. And it bonded them together in an uncomfortable situation that they grew to accept. So when Moses finally came along to rescue them from their plight, they were actually skeptical of a change in their “uncomfortable comfort.”
As the Exodus story progressed, the Israelites slowly exchanged their bonded, experiential relationship with Egypt – for a new relationship with Moses, while at the same time they battled between trust in the God of their ancestors and their primal human nature to worship His created, material world.
The Egyptians, on the other hand, were bonded in a relationship of servant to master, in a military order of hierarchy, all directed to their Pharaoh. Theirs, was simply an “obey or die” relationship which extended to even their blood-family kinships.
The third kind of relationship we see in our Scriptures today is that of Jesus to His Mother and cousins. This, in many ways, was a Special Relationship, a Divine relationship, with God as Jesus’ true Father.
But it was also a Familial Relationship, a very human relationship as well, with all of the normal human consequences of imperfect communications, which we see in many of Jesus’ interactions with the culture of His time. As we read throughout the Gospels about all the word-conflicts Jesus had with the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, and even with His own disciples, we just might wish that Jesus had a mind-zapper gun to make them instantly understand what He was trying to teach them. And though I’m sure that He had the capability of making that happen, doing so would have undermined God’s gift of our own Free Will.
So Jesus was limited to communicating with us through word pictures and parables, through quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures and even through His miracles.
Thus it was today, that we have this short response by Jesus to an interruption of His teachings. “Who is my mother?” and “Who are my brothers?” You see, Jesus actually used this timely interruption, as a lesson within a lesson, to teach His disciples about priorities in relationships.
Yes, we all have blood-Familial relationships,
and Yes, we also have Experiential relationships,
and we even have Work relationships of master and servant, of boss and employee,
and all of these are important.
But in ALL of our relationships, THE MOST important one is our relationship with God. For without that, none of the others will ever survive the test of humanity, nor the test of time, the test of Eternity.
You see, God is IN all and FOR all, and Jesus is the Word that brings us Life. They are our Father and our Brother. And that IS a relationship to Sing to the Lord and to one another about!
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