12 Pentecost

The Rev. Noel Bordador

In the last few weeks, the Gospel stories we hear contain what is called the “hard sayings” of our Lord. They are hard sayings because the Lord challenges and warns us of things that would put an obstacle in our way of following him. Two weeks ago, he mentions the accumulation of material things as a possible hindrance. Last week it was money- wealth- and today, family! Many Christians often equate Christianity with family values, but today’s Gospel reading seems to contradict that equation. What Jesus says in the Gospel today is hardly family values. In fact, he says that there are times in which family could get in a way of following Jesus.

there is someone I know, a priest, whose family at first resisted his decision to enter the ministry. They thought his choice was rather a poor one. His family thought that he would just be wasting his life. That he would just be wasting his good mind, his future for a not so lucrative a vocation. Instead, his family wanted him to be a doctor. That choice would seem more prestigious. By becoming a doctor, he would make more money and might make his life more financially comfortable.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Jesus is not against family. Remember, he was very close to his mother and brothers who seemed to follow him throughout his earthly life. In fact, his mother followed him all the way to Calvary, and he loved his mother to the end. But, in the Gospel stories, we read that his family did not always understand what he was doing. In fact there were times when they interfered with him. The Gospel of Mark (3:21) relates a story in which there was a time when his family thought he was “beside himself”…acting kind of crazy.

Our family is God’s gift to us. They are given to us by God to nourish and nurture, us in life. And in turn, our family deserves our love, support, and allegiance. That’s the ideal, of course. But what if our family does not support us in our walk with God? What if our family resist our efforts to follow the Lord closely? What if our family causes division between us and the Lord? What if our family becomes a hindrance in our efforts to be persons of love and mercy? The Gospel, then, forces us to make the choice when it comes to that. That is indeed difficult.

Jesus anticipated this to happen. Jesus knew that his disciples might encounter difficulties from their families in carrying out their lives in a way that is marked with goodness and integrity. The disciples might not get the support from their families after all.

And this is why Jesus created a new and different family- one in which members are not bound by blood relationships but by faith. And that family is called the Church. Today’s Gospel mentions baptism. Well, baptism is the act by which we enter this new family; baptism is by which we become part of a new family. And ideally, this family is where we get the support and nurture we need that allows us to be faithful followers of Jesus. But I know well enough that churches also has their struggles in trying to be authentically “family” to their members. Church won't feel like family if our relationships are not marked with true caring. Church won't feel like family if there is pestering conflict and division. We have to ask ourselves in what way can we play a good part to make this Church a home, a family.

Let us pray that our family, this family we call Church of Our Savior is indeed a place where we can find sustenance.