Daily reading: 21 February

'Who are my brothers?'

Something to read

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’

But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

Matthew 12:46-50

Something to think about

We are so protective of the small, family unit that it is hard to read this passage without feeling keenly the rejection of Jesus’s mother and brothers.

In some ways, Jesus’ treatment of his family was even more shocking at the time this was written: Jewish society was defined by family ties.

Every boy was known as the ‘son of’ his father. (There is conjecture about what name Jesus was known by, given the play over his names in the gospels.)

This, though, is a story not of rejection but of acceptance. In the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, all are paid the same, no matter how long they have been employed. Here, too, we see the egalitarian nature of Christ’s kingdom.

Jesus doesn’t have a first division and a second division when it comes to love. His love is so expansive that it can embrace a crowd of people and absorb them into his intimate family. He loves the stranger to the same degree that he loves his own mother.

His criterion for intimacy is whether or not the person before him does God’s will. No other ties — of blood, or nationality, or race, or gender, or age, or physical beauty — have any meaning.

Something to do

Friends and family tend to be an either/or in our lives. We so often flee from one to the other to escape the demands made upon us. Is it possible to love everyone equally, so that no one feels pushed out of your life? The clue is thoughtfulness: think more about what each person needs.

Something to pray

Thank you, Lord, for your indiscriminate love that draws us into your arms. Help us to be undiscriminating in our love for others. Amen.


Today’s contributor is Paul Handley, Managing Editor of The Church Times