While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Like many of us, I enjoy weddings, graduation parties, post-ordination gatherings, and the like. Looking around such gatherings, a guest can learn much about the different dimensions of the host’s life: his neighbors, extended family, childhood friends, college roommates, colleagues, fellow parishioners, etc. The joy of hosting such a party is to look around and cherish those people who, in a real sense, constitute and deepen our identity.
Today’s gospel passage concludes the weighty twelfth chapter of Matthew, in which Jesus is repeatedly challenged and tested by scribes and Pharisees. At last, surrounded by his disciples, it appears that Jesus is given a respite from his interrogators.
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Christ stretches out his hand to the disciples around him, inviting them to share more intimately in his mission. “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, sister, and mother.” Jesus feels at ease amidst this gathering, knowing that they desire to unite their hearts and lives to the will of his Father. Would Jesus recognize my face in this crowd? Do the circles that I travel in draw me closer to, or away from, this intimate mission with Christ? Do I give witness to his mission, or detract from it by how I live as a Christian? May the grace today be to recognize his outstretched hand, inviting us to move toward closer discipleship.
—Mr. Joseph Simmons, S.J.
Lord, it’s quite extraordinary that you love us as you loved your mother and your closet friends. When we speak in hypotheticals or critique the behaviors of fallen sports figures, celebrities, and politicians, we usually see ourselves taking the higher road and choosing to sacrifice, prestige, money, reputation to do the right thing.
But how many times have we not agreed with the more senior leader and sold out the less influential person just to stay in good graces with those who determine salary increases and promotions? Please give us the courage to look upon others as mother, brother, and sister in Christ so we do not cave to superficial success and instead honor your call to love despite the cost.
-The Jesuit Prayer Team