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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Today’s Reading | Luke 8:19–21

Then his mother and his brothers came to Jesus, 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.” (NRSV)

Many of us are not quite sure what to do with these words from Jesus. Certainly Luke’s version is gentler than Mark’s telling of the story. But even though Jesus does not seem to push them away in these words, it is still hard to imagine what that would have felt like to Mary, his mother.

I had always assumed that Jesus’ words would have been wounding to his mother. And yet I recently read that for many immigrants and other displaced people, these words from Jesus serve as a balm. Justo Gonzales (in Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible: Luke) writes that for many immigrants, the saddest part of their lives is the experience of being uprooted from family. Gonzales claims this is one reason why Latino ecclesiology often stresses the image of church as the family of God. For these folks facing a new land or a new life alone, Jesus’ expansion of what makes a disciple’s family would be life-giving and comforting. I wonder if Mary might have heard them that way too. After all, Jesus’ words don’t push her away, but they make the circle wider.

Frankly, this expansive understanding of family is what we celebrate at a baptism. At a baptism, the person’s true last name becomes “Christian.” All the baptized share that last name. Baptism signals the entrance into the larger family that Christ gathers. It is why we take vows to help raise the person in the faith and why we welcome them as our new brother or our new sister in Christ. And the most beautiful part of Jesus’ expansion of our family is that we don’t get to do the choosing as to who is included. Yet we trust that we still stand within the ever-widening circle.

Jesus, we thank you for making us family. We thank you for not letting go of us and for encouraging us to not let go of each other. May the words that we use and the actions that we take be those that build up your family in courage and in love. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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