Getting to Jesus through the crowd
A Reflection for the Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:19-21).
Have you ever been to an event for a good friend or close family member and felt like you couldn’t get a word in with bride or groom, the new graduate, the birthday girl or boy? Friends and relatives have flown in from around the country for the party, and your loved one wants to take time to catch up with them all.
At first you might feel a little hurt or jealous or even resentful. You’re their best friend, their sister after all.
I imagine the mother of Jesus and his brothers might have experienced those feelings, however, fleetingly in today’s Gospel when they come to see Jesus and are brushed away. But I bet they soon realized Jesus was not trying to be rude; it just wasn’t their time.
Jesus says that “my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Surely Mary and Jesus’ brothers are already included in those ranks. They don’t need to see Jesus now because they have already heard his word.
But the crowds? Those who have traveled days and miles to see Jesus, maybe for the first time? They are the ones who need Jesus' attention this moment. They still need to hear the word of God so they too can act on it. Mary and his brothers must have known that Jesus’ infinite love is not weakened for them even as his family grows.
That’s important to remember as we embark on conversations about the life of the church during the Synod on Synodality. It can sometimes feel like the church is paying more attention to those with one foot in, one foot out of the church or outside the fold completely. For my part, it can be tempting to say, “Hey, what about us Catholics who already go to Mass every Sunday, who pray every day, who go to confession. Why isn’t the church paying attention to our needs?”
But like Jesus, who does not abandon the masses to spend time with the ones he loves most, the church today is called to turn to the peripheries, to those parts of society that have not yet heard the word of God. Mary and his brothers wish to see Jesus; they and we can do just that by serving all people, especially those in need, who were made in his image.