Tuesday 20th July Mass and Reflection

Mass Readings for the day can be found here

Gospel  Matthew 12 : 46-50
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."

Commentary below is from Ron Rolheiser taken from here

We all too easily define ourselves, our citizenship, our loyalties, our concerns and our interests in a way that does not reflect our wider citizenship. 
Not that this is all wrong. There is virtue and goodness in loyalty to country, religion, family, race and gender. These are important identities, key parts of our self-definition, and they do demand certain loyalties, responsibilities and duties. We may never take these for granted and think we don't owe anything to them. 

But too often we lose the sense that we are also citizens of other realms and each of these too makes certain demands and moral claims on us. We are citizens of the whole world, one with all who believe, brothers and sisters with all who are sincere, and part of the one family of humanity. And these wider loyalties constitute our deepest identity. 

Jesus said as much: "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters? Those who hear and keep the word of God are mother, brother, and sister to me!"
In saying that, Jesus redefined both our citizenship and our loyalties. Real family, real country, real religion, and real identity are not based upon blood relationship, colour, gender, church affiliation, or shared geography. 

Image source

What makes real family, country, religion, or identity is a shared spirit, the Holy Spirit of charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, faith, fidelity, gentleness and chastity. These transcend all other boundaries of country, religion, family, race and gender. They are what we ultimately ask for our loyalty. 

Baptism trumps papacy, just as world citizenship trumps the name of the specific country named on our passports. There will be no countries in heaven.

Both our humanity and our faith make us citizens of many worlds, demand of us wide loyalties, and demand too that we do not name intolerance, narrowness, racism, sexism, self-interest and indifference to the suffering of others as virtue. 

Our real passport is not issued by an individual country and Baptism puts us into solidarity with others beyond any one faith or denomination: 
We are citizens of the world before we are citizens of a country; 
women and men of faith before we belong to some religion; Christians before we belong to a particular denomination; baptized before we are priests, bishops, cardinals or popes.

My own reflection

At first glance this passage does not seem to support the stuff of "family values "

Any parent who has teenage children might find it one they can easily relate to. 
Their sons and daughters have multiple friends on Facebook, endless exchanges on Twitter bringing the influence of countless people from a virtual world to the door of their homes and these can often occupy the teenagers time to such an extent that they become more family than their own blood relations.

Teenagers disappear from the dinner table into  their own rooms, where their secret worlds and their online contacts become extended family; spending time with new brothers and sisters whom they choose to spend more time on than their own biological family, with often more influence than  their nuclear family might consider healthy.

So we might consider that Jesus  would endorse such social networking and  stretching of family committments to extend life into a global community ?! 
No, not exactly, because there would have to be a caveat. The  knub of the message Jesus gave is ..................
"For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother."
Unless our time and committments are rooted first and foremost in God then  it matters not a whit whether we are in the company of our genetic or virtual family.
Another Commentary here 
A great one from here
and another here

1 comment:

Tim said...

Yes, Phil, there is a huge difference between our busy-ness and our Father's business. Our generation's obsession with "fitting in" and being "well-liked" has filtered down to having tons of friends whom you know no deeper than their surfaces. This is not "family." And the same spirit, I think, has taken the church world, which is now about popularity and PR more than forging bonds among its parishioners. We've forgot "flock" in the Biblical sense is a noun, not a verb.

Blessings--this is rich stuff!

PS: I'm rushing to get back up to speed, but I see I'm not able to get it done in one sitting. I'll be back very soon for more!