Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."…

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you." But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”’ Mark 3:20-21, 31-35

Ah, family! The people who can bring us the most joy and at times, the most frustration. We all have images of perfect families… those adorable families in matching outfits smiling at the camera with arms around each other at the beach. It can sometimes lead us to wonder, “What happened to my family? Why doesn’t my family have matching outfits? My parents won’t even talk to each other. My siblings are fighting over inheritance. My children have left the faith and complain about me. They never come to visit. I’ll never live up to my father’s expectations. My brother drives me nuts.”

If we’re honest, we all probably have a relative that bugs us just a little bit. We have probably at one point or another felt hurt by a family member. But what do we do about it? Does Jesus have anything to say about it? Did he ever have this experience?

Actually, yes. He did. Jesus was not accepted by his extended family in his hometown. When he was forced out of his hometown, we see no evidence that his family came to his rescue. Later we read that while he was driving out demons, his family tried to convince him to stop, saying that he was crazy. If there were mental institutions in Jesus’ time, he just might have been admitted by his family. Clearly he was not understood.

Max Lucado in his book “He Still Moves Stones” discusses this passage.

How does Jesus put up with these guys? How can you believe in yourself when those who know you best don’t? How can you move forward when your family wants to pull you back? When you and your family have two different agendas, what do you do?

Jesus gives us some answers.

It’s worth noting that he didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his. He didn’t demand that they agree with him. He didn’t sulk when they insulted him. He didn’t make it his mission to try to please them.

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus’ brothers didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t. If Jesus himself couldn’t force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?

We can’t control the way our family responds to us. When it comes to the behavior of others toward us, our hands are tied. We have to move beyond the naïve expectation that if we do good, people will treat us right. The fact is they may and they may not—we cannot control how people respond to us.

If your father is a jerk, you could be the world’s best daughter and he still won’t tell you so.

If your aunt doesn’t like your career, you could change jobs a dozen times and still not satisfy her.

If your sister is always complaining about what you got and she didn’t, you could give her everything and she still may not change.

As long as you think you can control people’s behavior toward you, you are held in bondage by their opinions. If you think you can control their opinion and their opinion isn’t positive, then guess who you have to blame? Yourself.

It’s a game with unfair rules and fatal finishes. Jesus didn’t play it, nor should you.

We don’t know if Joseph affirmed his son Jesus in his ministry—but we know God did: “This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him” (Matt. 3:17).

I can’t assure you that your family will ever give you the blessing you seek, but I know God will. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. If your earthly father doesn’t affirm you, then let your heavenly Father take his place.

… God has proven himself as a faithful father. Now it falls to us to be trusting children. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. Let him fill the void others have left. Rely upon him for your affirmation and encouragement.

… Having your family’s approval is desirable but not necessary for happiness and not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of his family overshadow his call from God.”

We have all been called to a life of holiness. In our path to holiness, our blood relatives may or may not stay by our side. Let us remember that our true family is around us, our heavenly Father goes with us and our true brothers and sisters, our Church family, stand beside us in our journey.

- Katherine

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