family

Jan 27, 2015

For most of the history of human civilization the term family has been used to speak of a community of love, parents and children, and a complex and diverse range of relationship connections across blood, contract and friendship ties. In the “Western” world family was often defined as a household of a wife and husband and their blood children, but in fact this was a concept more visible in theory than in practice.  Many of the families that I knew as a child embraced children who were adopted, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and extended families sharing the responsibilities of raising children and supporting parents who were sick or struggling. Even more-so today, family units which have been broken through death or divorce, are reformed with new relationships of love. For most, this situation has arisen after much struggle, grief and pain. But thankfully God is good at writing straight with crooked lines, and for those who are able to look beyond the pain, new life is waiting.

It is right to acknowledge that Jesus was raised in a family of love which doesn’t really meet the common understanding of nuclear family: this definition doesn’t take the active role of the Holy Spirit in the virgin birth of Jesus into account.
The ministry of Jesus institutes a new form of family. Our Father, papa, daddy, is now God, and we are children of God. We speak of Mary as our Mother, and our sisters and brothers are all those who look to the One Father. Such a renewed family life brings hope to all who struggle with human definitions of family life.
Jesus makes the point very powerfully in today’s gospel reading:
The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

1 Comment

  1. This lovely reflection is timely. We’ve just spent a month in the Sounds with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives, friends, all gathering around the tables for long evening meals filled with food and laughter, all reminding us yet again that the broader definition of family is “a community of love. ” I’m reminded that Jesus added to his family, 12 brothers, people such as Mary and Martha and Lazarus, Mary of Magdala, and the numbers have been growing ever since. Now, daily, Jesus gathers friends around his table, as his family. He has made his church a community of love. Doesn’t that fill us with awe and rejoicing?

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