Today's reading: Mark 3:20-35
There is so much going on in today's reading--if I were preaching it, I'd have my homiletical hands full! But for today I am going to claim a bit of "creative license" and think a little bit about just the tiny little part that intrigues me at the moment: the family.
This selection begins and ends with Jesus' family matters. In verses 20-21, Jesus was trying to have dinner at someone's home, and was mobbed (once again) by a crowd, preventing him from participating in his normal life (in this case, the food!). His family (we're not told specifically which relatives) were headed in to get him out of the crowd... and the reason they used was "he's out of his mind." Were they seriously concerned for his mental health? Very possibly; certainly they'd never seen a sane person behave the way he did. Or were they perhaps trying to stay under the radar, removing Jesus from the situation without further enflaming the irritation of Jesus' theological opponents? That makes sense to me too.
Fast foward to the last little section of the reading: verses 31-35 are familiar ones. Jesus' mother and brothers arrived at the house and were looking for him, asking around if anyone had seen him; no doubt the gathered crowd made it difficult to find any one person at the party! But when their arrival and their search was reported to Jesus, he took it as an opportunity to make a point about family ties. He asked "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around at the devotees surrounding him, soaking in his every word and gathering close to receive his touch, he said "Here are my mother and brothers and sisters: everyone who does God's will."
I'm fascinated by the contrast between these two family encounters; in fact, they're flip sides of the same coin, that is, did Jesus' family really know him? And how does Jesus really know his family?
I'm so thankful that God uses human relationships to help us find our place in God-relationships; what a gift that not only we as individuals, but we as families are made in God's image! We desire those closest to us to recognize our own true selves; no doubt Jesus wished for the same thing. And we find spiritual kin in those who most closely share our faith journey, sometimes biologically related, and sometimes not.
Thanks be to God for the gift of family, in it's many forms; may we find in our family relationships true depth of knowing, honest self-hood, and a community of merciful travelers on our way.