Psalm 130, Genesis 3: 8-15, 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:2, Mark 3: 20-end
There have always been those parts of the Bible that are less easy to explain than others. Indeed the Old Testament is full of them and very often the Lectionary Readings for each Sunday misses them out, perhaps the current crop of television soaps provide us with enough earthy excitement.
In today’s Gospel reading we hear of Jesus being somewhat dismissive of his mother, brothers and sisters, a story that is also told in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels. Jesus has in fact just chosen his twelve disciples and has now attracted a large following, including scribes from Jerusalem. Jesus has returned to his home and his disciples, and followers including the scribes have come with him.
Can you imagine, say last weekend a large group arriving on Kew Green, where Jesus’s family live in a nice quiet respectable community? As Jane Williams writes in her Lectionary Reflections;
“His (Jesus’s) antics are annoying the neighbours and getting the family a bad reputation. Perhaps they had thought that Jesus’s healing and teaching was like a job - he could go out to do it by day and come back to a normal family life in the evenings. This great heaving, struggling mass of people, with their noise and their litter is not at all what they expected. They begin to be rather afraid that the experts from Jerusalem ( the scribes ) are right, and that Jesus has gone mad. After all, no one in their right mind would want to be the centre of such scenes, would they?”
How very little has actually changed in over two thousand years. Would any of us, mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters want our orderly respectful lives turned upside down by the arrival of an itinerant offspring with all his new friends and followers? Not that Jesus’s mother and family did not love him, but actually understand him, and what he had come to do, No!
We are all, especially in our comfortable western society, very good at looking out to ourselves, our own needs and requirements. We need only look at the present Pandemic where many western countries have two or three times more vaccines than they actually require, while many third world countries still struggle to get close to the amount that they need. What should our Lord say about that?
As Paul tells those he is writing to in Corinth;
“For this sight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
So, Jesus never came to do a 9 to 5 job, to be like everyone else, to offer easy choices, or allow us to be happy with ‘what can be seen’. For he came then, as he comes today, to offer us all what cannot be seen just with blinkered vision, or with comfortable choices.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and for whatever blasphemes they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness”.
Jesus came into the world to save us not to condemn us, but it still remains with us to open our eyes and hearts to that saving grace. Mary, Jesus’s mother came to understand the role her son had come to play and the suffering he had to endure on our behalf, and in many ways I feel he still suffers on our behalf today. When he sees what we have done, and are still doing to the world. When we too often cross over and walk on the other side. When we disassociate with the rough sleeper, those who do not live the way we choose to live, those of different sex, colour or creed. Those we choose not to understand or show compassion towards. All those who Jesus took time for, noticed and loved, the crippled, the blind in body and spirit, the unwashed, the unclean, the rejected by society, the unloved and unwanted.
They are still all with us today, as much here in our own village, our towns and country, as they are in the rest of God’s world. Here are Jesus’s ‘mother and brothers’, for as our Lord said.
“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
And remember we can no more hide from God than Adam and Eve were able to in their nakedness in the Garden of Eden. God is all seeing and all knowing and most importantly all loving, if we only except and show ourselves worthy of that love.
Amen Michael Tonkin
Cover image by www.LumoProject.com