Today’s readings start out nice enough today. We read the conclusion of the book of Micah where we find the people who survived their exile are finally softening their hearts and offering great praise to the God of mercy. Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt?
And that theme carries into the responsorial psalm…Lord, show us your mercy and love. You have forgiven the guilt of your people; you have covered all their sins. You have withdrawn all your wrath; you have revoked your burning anger…Will you not instead give us life; and shall not your people rejoice in you?
And them comes the Gospel – the good news!? Why the question mark? Good question – now let me try and explain. My wife and I have put together 5 simple rules that each of our children are asked to keep:
- Always show respect for your elders.
- Always ask with please; always answer with thank you.
- Don’t whine when asked to do things.
- Always clean up after yourself.
- We are a family, behave as one.
Simple, easy to remember. The last one is very important to us because to my wife and I, our family means everything to us. We both came from large families and we both are very close to not only the siblings and parents we grew up with, but the in-laws we received when we got married. When asked what my vocation is I don’t hesitate to tell people I chose to be a loving husband and father. I am going to share a thought/pray that I have prayed since I read the Left Behind books series many years ago. I’ve asked our heavenly Father that if the day of rapture comes and I’m ready to be taken into the kingdom but some of my children are not (I never worry about my wife being “left behind”), leave me to stay with them to help them through that final battle. I have always believed in family first and I would never want to leave any of them behind.
I’m not sure if that is what Jesus is referring to in the Gospel today, but I do know that this message is loud and clear from today’s Gospel – my family does not begin and end with the people living in my house; my family is not merely my siblings and in-laws. God’s church, those who follow God, are my family and should have as much priority as my immediate family, siblings and in-laws.
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
From Bishop Barron’s reflection this morning…
Family is wonderful. There is nothing in the world wrong with fostering the flourishing of your family. But over and again, the Bible places the goods of the world into question—even something as good as family relationships.
Why? Because family isn’t God. It is not that which you should serve with your whole heart; it doesn’t belong in the center of your life.
Is family the point around which most of your energies revolve? Is it your primary focus as you make your way through the day? Are there times when you feel your family obligations competing with the will of God?
Then remember Jesus’ words: “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?…Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father.”
With those thoughts comes a challenge to all reading this blog. Think about your family and the importance of them to you. Think about the sacrifices you make on a daily basis for your families. Now think about the time you dedicate to your parish family. Do you only come for Mass on Sunday? Do you go to daily Mass? Is there an organization the church has in which you offer your talents in assistance? Can you do more for your church? The simple answer to that is yes, you can. So the hard question is, will you do more for your church? What family takes priority in your life – “yours” or God’s?
I don’t believe today’s Gospel is asking us to abandon our families, siblings or in-laws. I think it is calling us to think about the love we have for those members of our family and strive for an even deeper relationship with God our Father, Jesus our Brother and our church family. God is and should always be our number one priority.
Do something great for our Lord today and get more involved with your Church family. We are all one family – I pray that we behave as one.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.