He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Luke 8:21).
There are many popular genetic testing kits that are advertised on TV and through the internet. People have asked me is it possible to be a blood relation to Jesus. Jesus’ reply today can help you to save some money. What is important is not blood relation, but “those who hear the word of God and act upon it.” God is to be first, even before family. We may experience a subtle shudder from this statement, but to those of Jesus’ time it would have been apoplectic. Family meant everything in the Ancient Near East.
Jesus is not making the point that we disregard family. Jesus is making the point that if we are to be authentically present to our family this will come about best by following the will of God. As we deepen our relationship with Jesus and put his teachings into action, we begin to bear the relational fruits of patience, understanding, kindness, love, joy, and peace. Would not our familial relationships be better if we were more patient, understanding, kind, loving, joyful, and peaceful with one another? Jesus taught and showed from his own life that the path to fulfilling and intimate relationships flourish when we put God first. For as we grow closer in relationship with him we also do so with those in our family.
Jesus’ point in today’s Gospel is that our “family” is to transcend bloodline, tribe, or nation. Any of “those who hear the word of God and act upon it” are spiritually akin to Jesus the Christ. The point is not that we may have a genetic, lineal relation with Jesus, but that when we live and act according to his Father’s will, we are part of the universal family of God’s grace and mercy and our relationship with him and one another grows as we continue to bear the fruits of the spirit. Instead of talking and shouting at one another, let us be willing to dialogue and seek to build bridges of a common accord with one another. As brothers and sisters, let us seek to be more understanding, to be more willing to walk and accompany one another. Let us love one another as Jesus has loved and loves us!

Link for today’s reading: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092518.cfm
Photo: My family in Christ, Edwin, at his installation as an acolyte this past Sunday, his wife Rosa, and Bishop William Wack, C.S.C.

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