After the seasons of Lent and Easter along with the great feasts of Pentecost, Holy Trinity ,Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart we now go back to Ordinary Time and continue from the 10th Sunday. The gospel Reading for this Weekend is all about the Family of Jesus and their attempt to take control of him. When Jesus asks the question who is my Mother and my brothers he puts everything in its place. In one move, Jesus replaced his personal family and friends with the family of God the Church and that is the people who did the will of God, his Father. Jesus is not disowning his family; he is acknowledging the relationship between himself and the Father and that is greater than the physical bond of family and homeplace. Jesus establishes a new family , no doubt hoping that his own relatives, like everyone else, will come to accept him for who he is the son of God. Clearly his relatives like so many others have trouble accepting the change that Jesus has undergone from becoming a village carpenter to a mighty prophet who proclaims the kingdom of God his Father. As John says in his Gospel: “Not even his brothers… had faith in him” (7:5). Jesus has to face that misunderstanding and rejection. It is part of the cross he has to bear.
Allegiance to the Father and by implication to his Son transcended ties of the country you come from and the family you belonged to. The Kingdom of God was above social structure. Hence, social expectations over behaviour, even behaviour that challenged the status quo of the leaders, was also superseded. Family ties, social roles, and religious pecking order were meaningless. Our problem, of course, lies in our expectations. What do we expect others to do? What do we expect God to do? How do we react when God or others don’t meet our expectations? More important, how do we react when God or others CHALLENGE our expectations? These days there are many different challenges to us as members of god’s family and for us here in Ireland there are many particular challenges. I believe that faith will prevail but the faith of the future will be different but in many ways will remain the same. Over the past few days I have been thinking about the abortion referendum result and what it means and I feel that the faith of so many has been challenged and many people have been found wanting in what they have said and done. I think that its fair to say that all of us who are pro-life feel broken as a result of the referendum vote but we know that as the brothers and sisters of Jesus he is with us in this moment of sadness and hurt.
The gospels are always challenging and calling us to a better way of life as members of the body of Christ his family. We will become his brothers and sisters if we do the will of God. Doing the will of God may alienate us from our family and relatives, but the Jesus always points us towards a more important relationship with the Father. As we go forward there will be many challenges to us in our personal lives and our lives of faith. If we are true to the faith we profess each time we say the creed then we can say that we are the brothers and sisters of Jesus doing the will of the father as we face the challenges of being people of faith wherever we live in our world.