Then his mother and his brothers arrived, and remaining outside sent in a message asking him to come out to them. A crowd was sitting round and word was brought to him: "Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you." He replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And looking round at those who were sitting in the circle about him he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, my mother." Mark 3:31-35
We've heard the expression blood is thicker than water - blood family comes first. It might be shocking for us to hear it - really hear it - but Jesus doesn't seem to agree. And we've built up a whole religious culture which we even call Family Values. Jesus would say our ideas about Family Values are too small.
In these verses there are insiders and there are outsiders. The word outside is used twice in two lines. That signifies something. The insiders are those who understand that God's work is happening in Jesus, while the outsiders (which even seems to include his own blood family) are those who don't see who Jesus really is.
What matters, even more than any earthly tie is doing God's will. It isn't just young people who experience peer pressure, is it? As long as my blood family doesn't get it - they come in second place.
Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus is going to teach us "take up your cross and follow me." Losing what I think is life or rejecting what I've been told is life by advertisers, entertainers and media people may very well cause tension and even division in my own family. This is the power of the virgin martyrs - Christian girls who refused to accept the pre-arranged marriages to pagan men in the ancient world.
So I'm thinking three things:
- Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, my mother. Perhaps I will have to wait until I traverse to the other side, but a day will come when each of us may well be horrified (in a holy way) to learn who has been doing God's will all along and I either rejected it, condemned it, was bitter about it, or hadn't a clue or any insight about it.
- To do God Will - this is what makes me part of Christ's family - his brother, his sister, his mother. What a great privilege! We have a new identity and a new worth, not born of any cultural, national, political, economic or familial claim. This insight changes everything. Mahatma Gandi said:
"You Christians have in your keeping a document (the Gospels) with enough dynamite in it to blow the whole of civilization to bits."
- Should anyone think in these verses Jesus is minimizing Mary, his biological mother - fear not - if anyone ever did God's will, it was she.