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Jesus seems here to disown his family. Does he dismiss Mary and his family? He knew that he was not going down well with the family, and maybe wanted some distance from them. It is interesting that they came for him, maybe to take him home.
But he turns the family table. He expands his notion of the family. Coming from God his father he proclaims that all around him are family to him – these are his mother, brother and sister. He will later teach them to pray, not My Father, but Our Father.
This is one of the central teachings of Jesus, that we are all brothers and sisters, because of our Father in heaven. From this truth that Jesus felt so strongly came much of his preaching – to retreat each other as family at its best would.
This follows on from the debate about good and bad religion of earlier weeks. The best of religion treats us all as brothers and sisters because of God. Our first and last belonging is that we belong to God – we come from God and go to God.
There will often be conflict in Jesus’ family about him. His first family did not take easily to his new family – his disciples. Only at Pentecost around the mother of Jesus would both families unite.
His words are words to us today – he looks around at us and sees us as his brothers and sisters. This will make a difference as to how we see each other.
Think of different people and say within yourself,
‘you are my brother, you are my sister’.
Make me, Lord, an instrument of peace and of joy among your people.
Donal Neary SJ