Tuesday of Week 3 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Mark 3:31-35

We know that many of Jesus’ family already thought he was mad, and he had become an embarrassment to them. Now they come to the house where Jesus is teaching and, standing outside, send in a message asking for him. Do they want to talk with him or to remove him from what he is doing?

The message is sent in:

Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.

To which Jesus replies:

Who are my mother and my brothers?

And pointing to those sitting at his feet listening to his teaching, he says:

Here are my mother and my brothers!

And he clarifies that further by adding:

Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

We should note that Jesus’ family is described twice as being on the “outside”. They are ‘outsiders’. By implication, those sitting in a circle with Jesus are on the ‘inside’ – they are the ‘insiders’.

What Jesus is clearly saying is that being on the ‘inside’ is not just a question of location, but of relationship. That relationship is not by blood, but by identification with the Way of Jesus. To be a Christian is to enter into a new family, with stronger ties than those of blood, and where everyone is seen as a brother or a sister. The ‘insider’ is defined simply as anyone “who does the will of God”. So, it can include those who are not Christian at all.

A disturbing question that might arise from this passage is the status of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Was she also on the “outside”? The answer is an unequivocal no! We know from Luke’s Gospel that, when invited by the angel to be the mother of Jesus, Mary gave an unconditional ‘Yes’.

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

This was her total surrender to the will of God, and it was something that she never withdrew through all the difficulties she experienced and, most of all, when the “sword of sorrow” pierced her heart as she saw her own Son’s heart pierced on the Cross. She was with him to the very end, and finally would share his joy in the Resurrection.

On one occasion, when Mary was praised as blessed and privileged for having a Son like Jesus, Jesus replied:

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it! (Luke 11:27-28)

Mary is on the ‘inside’, not because she was the mother of Jesus, but because of her totally identifying with his mission and being with him to the very end. May we be able to say the same.

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