The Gospel reading from Mark 3:20-35 asked us to identify with people who sit at Jesus’ feet. In the height of our post-modern popular culture, Jesus calls us into an unpopular, strict, and seemingly renewal culture and group who put God first in their lives in everything. The invitation to follow Jesus, to live as he lived by making the will of God the first thing in our lives point to the importance of spiritual relation beyond the biologic relation. This brings to our reflection, the saying, blood runs thicker than water, but there’s something thicker than blood. It is the spiritual connection Jesus Christ offers. Mark defines the true Israel, Jesus’ true family not just those of his flesh and blood, nor his religious or national community, but rather “whoever does God’s will.” Jesus’ statement redefine for us the notion of family. Mary and others ‘by their actions were indicating that though they were biologically related to Jesus, spiritually, they were not related to him at all.’ Their problem was that, they took Jesus literally, not spiritually as many are doing today.
The book ‘A Theology of the Family’ by fifty-six authors and edited by Scott Brown and Jeff Pollard provides ‘a perspective on the family largely forgotten by the modern church.’ The purpose of the authors is to ‘bring a measure of the correction and the balm necessary to heal our amnesia and return us to biblical order.’ It is tragic that the modern Church had lost the biblical doctrine of the family. The two editors’ points us to a new era where a Christ centred view of the family was understood better resonates with Jesus new notion of family in the Mark gospel. The understanding of people may be locked in the literary chests of the past but Jesus in Mark 3 provides a new notion of family. Jesus’ redefinition of the notion of a true family suggests a stronger bond than that of flesh and blood. It is stronger than Rudyard Kipling description of family about sharing ‘things like dreams, hopes, possessions, memories, smiles, frowns, and gladness.’ Jesus’ redefinition and notion of family goes beyond ‘a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect.’ Mary’s relationship with Jesus was not close enough. Why this? Jesus reminds us of an authentic relationship which ultimately transcends all human association. It is a relationship with him and with those who relate to him. In the end, the relationships we possess as members of the kingdom of God pales all other associations. It is to this spiritual family that Jesus calls us as he did to the early disciples.
Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters were innocently trying to safeguard Jesus but they were standing on different platform of theology, outside Jesus’ theology. What Mary thought to be a beckoning of love was beckoning of lust and disobedience to God’s will. Mary’s show of love was expression of opposition to Jesus’ mission on earth. Mary’s fear resonates with fear of many people, churches, closed to closing their hearts and doors for good. The narrative between Mary and Jesus reflects two type of churches: The Mary church, asking people to come, and Jesus’ church heading off into the world with warmed hearts set to pursue God-given vocation – the ‘World as our Parish,’ doing the will of God (Mark 3:35). It is a vocation to Go and not about demanding that others come to us. The fear of Mary resonates with the fear of many churches based on flesh and blood today, scared of the future, fear of never be the same again. What Jesus was saying to Mary and to the churches today suggests that human, ‘… way of being church is coming to an end,’ and that the life-giving Spirit of God cannot be restrained. What is thicker and eternal than blood is being Jesus’ family “brother and sister and mother” beyond flesh and blood? Jesus’ family is an open spiritual family.
To be in Jesus’ family is to recognise his authority and to submit to it. To be in Jesus’ family is to be at his ‘feet, in a position of humility, receiving from him what he was giving.’ To take Jesus literally like Mary and the Pharisees is to come him as people in authority, “they went to take charge of him, for ‘he is out of his mind’” (v 21). Their authority was based on who they were to Jesus, biologically and officially hence, Jesus had to listen and obey them in their own terms or he will face their sanctions. Alan Cole makes the point, “It is a strange paradox that in any times of religious revival or obvious working of God’s Spirit, it is often the religious leaders who oppose the work of God most strenuously, and seem to misunderstand it most wilfully.” For Mary and the Pharisees, Jesus wasn’t behaving as they expected him to behave. They wanted to sort him out and peradventure to maintain the family dignity. For the Pharisees, the ego-addicts, to keep their ego, the best defence is to raise a good offence against Jesus. Relatives of Jesus claim that he is mad, and scribes blaspheme him, charging that he is possessed by Beelzebul. The message is that ‘if you do God’s will, don’t expect everyone to applaud. It’s quite possible those closest to you, even your own family, may think you’re crazy.’ Clarence Darrow provides us a good encouragement. He said, “I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a lot more if I had been misunderstood.”
When people want to protect their ego and prerogatives, they oppress and demoralise those around them. According to Bishop Robert Barron, ‘there is a very unsubtle version of this method: you attack, put down, insult, and undermine those around you. This is the method of the bully. But the religious version is much subtler and thus more insidious and dangerous. It takes the Law itself—especially the moral law—and uses it to accuse and oppress. “I know what’s right and wrong; I know what the Church expects of us; and I know that you are not living up to it.”’ Jesus was misunderstood, maligned, and undermined through accusation and gossip. The motivation of Jesus’ mum, brothers, sisters, and the Pharisees was to “retrain” and suck Jesus into the slavery of ego addiction just because they were not spiritually related. Beloved, are you spiritually related Jesus Christ? Are you doubting like the Pharisees or so caring like Mary, trying to put Jesus under your terms? Please, stop taking Jesus literally, receive and take him spiritually. To be in Jesus’ family is thicker and eternal than human association.
Please let’s sing together:
When Jesus is in the family, happy happy happy home 2x
When the devil is in the family, trouble trouble home 2x