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The mother and brothers of Jesus came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
Jesus said: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Throughout the history of humanity there has, at its core, been the strong pull of family allegiance. Those to whom we are most closely related are those to whom we feel most attached. Our parents and siblings are also, in most cases, those with whom we might say we have the most intimate of relationships. In today’s reading Jesus is offering to welcome us into the intimacy of that familial relationship with him.
In the Gospel narrative Jesus extends the invitation Follow me thirteen times. That simple invitation echoes down the centuries. We, like the billions and billions who have gone before us, are being offered the same opportunity, the same choice. Jesus is standing before us, extending his hand, and inviting us into an intimate relationship with God. That invitation may not come in a way that we either expect or immediately recognise, but it is still there. If we can bring ourselves to reach out and take the proffered hand, if we can do the will of God, then our lives will know a joy and peace that defies our powers of description.
Of course, accepting Jesus’ invitation into a lifelong relationship is not without discomfort and inconvenience. Discomfort because it will challenge the lifestyles we have carved out for ourselves and for our human families. Inconvenience because it will demand a level of self-sacrifice that will fly in the face of the human instinct to grab at anything and everything that makes us feel comfortable and secure in this world. To follow Jesus and to do the will of God is not an easy option!
Today we are being given a stark choice. We are being offered an intimate relationship with God that will take us into a place beyond our wildest imaginings. But … that relationship will come at a cost. Jesus is asking us whether we are prepared to pay that price.
Let us pray that we might recognise our calling to be faithful disciples and apostles of Christ. Let us pray that we might set self aside and take the hand that is being offered in love. Let us pray that we might set aside our pride and our greed and, thereby, come to know the comfort, consolation and profound peace that comes from acknowledging that we are brothers, sisters and mothers of Jesus Christ himself.