Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’Luke 8:19-21
Jesus’ earthly mission is in full swing. He is travelling and teaching and healing. It is not difficult to imagine that as his ‘fame’ grew, as more and more people clamoured to be near him, his own family felt increasingly distanced from him. And that is where we are today. The crowds are hemming him in and his family cannot get anywhere near him. Then comes an interesting exchange. Someone recognized Jesus’ close family and let him know that they were waiting outside. Rather than leaping up and rushing out to see his mother and his brothers, Jesus spoke in a way that seemed to deny their kinship.
Of course, this is not the message of today’s reading. Jesus’ words are emphasizing that his relationship with humanity is not confined to interaction with the tiny unit we call a family. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was in relationship with God from before the moment of creation: Jesus is in the most intimate of relationships with God the Father. Given that divine relationship, we should not be surprised to hear Jesus say that he has kinship with all who live their lives as children of God. Jesus and his true followers share in that most precious of relationships.
In our very human lives there is sometimes the sadness of estrangement. That estrangement from those who should be closest to us is often rooted in various forms of betrayal: betrayal of trust, betrayal of respect, betrayal of confidence, betrayal of anything we hold dear in our relationships with others. It is possible that Mary and the rest of the family felt like that when Jesus declared all people to be in an intimate relationship with him. But … rather than feeling estranged they should have felt proud that ‘their’ Jesus was being true to his mission on earth. Jesus, the Son of God, is opening his arms to embrace all who come to him in response to hearing God’s word.
In this short passage we are being challenged to enter into the most intimate of relationships with God. We are being challenged to set aside personal needs and to live out our lives as children of the One God, who is our common Father and protector.