Tuesday of week 16 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Matthew 12:46-50

Just before we enter the third great discourse which is on the parables of the Kingdom, we have today’s short passage on who really belong to Jesus.

As Jesus was speaking to the crowds his mother and other family members arrived. “They were standing outside and were anxious to have a word with him.” Matthew does not say what that word was but we know from another context that they were embarrassed by what he was doing, probably because of the way he was earning the displeasure of the authorities. In later times, many who opted to follow Christ have been a source of embarrassment and displeasure to their families, especially in situations where being Christian or Catholic was a violation of state law or religious affiliation.

When Jesus is told they are looking for him he stretches out his hands to his followers and says that they are his “mother and brothers”. And then he defines how one becomes one of his brothers and sisters: “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

It is significant that Jesus’ own blood relatives are spoken of as being “outside”; Jesus’ disciples, those who really listen to him, are those who are “inside”. This is not to say that Jesus is rejecting his family; to do so would be to contradict his own teaching of loving all unconditionally. But he uses the situation to make a very important point: namely, that relationship to Jesus is based on one thing only, total commitment through Jesus to the Father.

To be a Christian, a disciple, is to enter into this new relationship with God and with others. All other bonds, including those of blood, take a second place or are to be understood in the light of this bonding to God first of all and above all.

It would be wrong to conclude that Jesus was rejecting his own mother here. Yet what he says applies to her as much as to anyone else. Mary is measured by her commitment to the Father and the Son, who is also her Son. That commitment was clearly made when she accepted to be the mother of Jesus,”Let it happen to me according to your word.” It was a commitment that was still being kept as she stood in grief at the foot of her Son’s cross. Mary was certainly on the “inside”.

Let us ask her today that we, too, may always be ‘insiders’.

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