I think it’s safe to say that if Jesus were our blood relative, family get togethers would be awkward. I can imagine a scene at the dinner table where Jesus starts in on all of the people he exorcised that day and Mary saying, “Okay Jesus, that’s enough demon talk for one day. “Let’s hear how Sara’s new job with the post office is going.”
In our Gospel scene today, we get a sense that Jesus’ family has not adjusted completely to who Jesus is and what he is doing. Jesus is making headlines. Each miracle brings more followers and new critics. The followers seem impressed that Jesus is keeping the promises of God. People are healing, seeing, walking, and talking when no one thought they ever would again. The critics think that someone with a mastery over illness must be an agent of illness.
And his family? His family thinks he’s lost it. They think he has lost the ability to see the world as it is, that he has lost his senses, that he has lost himself.
Jesus’ family does not recognize their son and brother. So, they try to hide and corral him.
But Jesus sticks up for himself to the legal experts, his neighbors and even those whom he loves.
Jesus hadn’t lost himself but his family sure had. They couldn’t see that Jesus was casting out evil by evil but by the power of our good God. They let the ruckus make them lose focus. They could not see that Jesus was filled with the power of God’s Holy spirit and setting right what was wrong.
Sometimes, God help them, our family cannot see who we are and what we are doing. It’s not their fault, they are human after all. Sometimes we cannot see our loved ones for who they are or understand what they are doing.
One of the radical values of Jesus and his church is that sometimes the work of the Holy Spirit outpaces our comprehension. The radical nature of God’s remaking ministry can be jarring if we stop paying attention to it, even for a minute.
We can be plugged into it one day and have miles to catch up the next. If we are not careful, we can confuse the Holy Spirit with something condemnable.
I have known many young people who have wrestled with who they are, deep down to their bones. Through discernment, and I believe the power of the Holy Spirit, they have discovered who they are only to be rejected by their family who is not ready to accept them at their fullest. This can be for any number of things, God makes each of us so special.
This Gospel is so challenging but one thing that upsets us is Jesus’ willingness to undermine the connection of family. For those of us who have had trouble in our family it can be alarming if not hurtful to hear Jesus seemingly disown his family, the people who have known him since the beginning of his life.
But that’s only half true. While our families have known us since we are born the scriptures tell us that God has known us even before that. We are told that God knit us in our mother’s womb. Today Jesus reminds us that while the relationship between family is deep and powerful it is not deeper than the relationship between creator and creature.
God knows us better than anyone ever will, even better than we know ourselves. Each of us is made by God, and wonderfully so. And as we grow fully into who God created us to be we might experience growing pains. There might be things about us that we have been conditioned not to think are wonderful. Alternatively, we might not initially be ready to accept the work of the Holy Spirit moving and maturing our loved ones into their full stature.
And here is the beautiful thing: there is room for that. Here is this church, Jesus says there are moms and dad, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas who are ready to accept the sometimes difficult to discern movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus’ family, here at the beginning of the gospel, is not ready. They are ashamed and scared. They do not recognize the power as holy and suspect with the authorities that this might be evil animating Jesus’ work.
In response Jesus says, “God has given me another family until you are ready.” We are that family, dear ones in Christ. The scripture says that we are Jesus’ family. On our best days we are entrusted with those who are still discerning who God has created them to be. When the Holy Spirit is kicking in ways beyond the comprehension of their given families and maybe even themselves, the Church is there to step in, perhaps forever or maybe just a season.
We know that at the end of Jesus’ life his mother was ready. There at the cross she understood who her son was made to be and by what power he had done so many marvelous things. There at the cross she knew what she did not at the beginning. It was not too late. There too at the cross we are told that she is given a new son, the beloved disciple, to be her own.
It’s scary to think that there are seasons in our life when our given family are not the ones to take care of us but the Gospel says that this can happen. It’s scary to think that there will be times when we are not the ones God has chosen to take care of our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. But when we try to undermine who God has called someone to be then we sin, grievously. But God does not leave us without comfort. The creator always provides for his creatures. When it is our turn to be God’s family, may we be ready for such an honor.