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Saint Joseph Catholic Church • Jasper, Indiana

A Parish of the Diocese of Evansville

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE

Have you ever felt judged by your family? St. John Paul II noted that the family "is the cradle of life and love" (On the Lay Members of Christ's Faithful, 40).

 

Yet unmet expectations and divergent priorities can cause tension in even the most loving family situations. This is true for us, and it was true for Jesus!
In today's Gospel, Jesus has returned home to Nazareth. A large crowd gathered, and Jesus finds himself facing stiff opposition from his family. This was likely Jesus' large, extended family. The Semitic language has no specific words for extended relatives, so everyone is "brother" or "sister." The entire clan has gotten wind of Jesus' preaching, and they are not amused. "They set out to seize him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'" To make matters worse, the religious authorities even accuse Jesus of being possessed by a demon. It's a mess by any standards.

The family's perspective is perhaps understandable. In Jewish culture, teachers and scribes underwent intensive schooling and apprenticeships, none of which Jesus had done. The family knew Jesus the carpenter, not Jesus the rabbi. For them, Jesus' bold preaching threatened the reputation of their family!

Jesus' words to his family can seem controversial. "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Yet Jesus knows what he is about. He has always known he would be about the business of his Heavenly Father. And what is that business? It is the business of the new covenant and the Kingdom of God. In this Kingdom, we are all adopted sons and daughters of the King. Jesus begins, even now, to expand the perspective of his listeners. Being welcomed into this family does not depend on our families of birth or ethnic origin, but a wholehearted commitment to "do the will of God."