O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you give us gifts and make them grow:
though our faith is small as mustard seed,
make it grow to your glory
and the flourishing of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, you were gracious to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the offence of your people
and covered all their sins.
You laid aside all your fury
and turned from your wrathful indignation.
Restore us again, O God our Saviour,
and let your anger cease from us.
Will you be displeased with us for ever?
Will you stretch out your wrath
from one generation to another?
Will you not give us life again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
I am sure that we have all heard the proverb: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps fewer of us have come across its alternative form: Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.
It is so easy for all of us to intend to do good but, so often, those intentions slip further and further down our To Do lists. We become distracted and diverted, and we quickly forget all that ‘good’ we intended to do.
Very often the distractions and diversions that get in the way of our Christian discipleship are rooted in family and friends. Some sort of personal crisis, whether real of perceived, arises and every good work we intended to do is swept aside. It is in exactly these sort of circumstances that the terrible phrase Charity begins at home is used. We forget Christ’s teaching on love and service. We cast aside the challenge to love our neighbour as ourselves. We do not give a second thought to Jesus’ teaching that every time we care for a stranger we are caring for him. And, to make the situation worse, our families and friends often demand that they be given priority over everything else, no matter how trivial their need, simply because they are family and friends.
In today’s reading Jesus seems to have very harsh words to say about his family. But, does he really? Jesus is addressing the crowds. He is teaching those who have come to hear the good news. Unexpectedly, his family show up and, we are told, they want to speak to him. Now read the text carefully! Jesus does not dismiss them or reject them! Nowhere does it say that he does not go out and speak with them. Instead, the text says that he uses their presence as an illustration. Jesus says to his disciples, as he says to us: You too can be part of my family, if only you will set aside the transient good intentions and live the life of faithful discipleship.
So … how are our To Do lists looking?
Are Christian love and service at the top of the list?
Are we strong enough to keep Christian love and service as our number one priority?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, the source of healing and grace.
Give to your Church grace to be constant in all the duties laid upon her, while looking always to the greater calling beyond this world. Heal her divisions and make her one in love so that no evil can enter.
Come to the rulers of this world and make them know themselves to be responsible only to you, the Ruler of all. Give to all who desire the good of humanity a shared will and a common purpose to work freely together.
Be close to us in our families, healing the doubts and conflicts that may trouble us. Teach us also to know that all are members of our family, because they are yours.
Have mercy on those who have lost their power to resist the attacks of evil. Bless and enable those who work to relieve their suffering. Empower and protect exorcists and healers of mind and spirit.
As Jesus was raised from the dead, so grant resurrection and new life to those who have died trusting in him. Though their outward bodies have perished, clothe them in the new garments of salvation.
We pray through Christ, by whom we are healed and empowered to be his people.
Prayer for the week
Heavenly Father, whose Son taught us
that what we do for the least of his children
we do for him:
help us to see him and serve him
in the suffering peoples of the world,
and to love them for his sake,
who first loved us,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.