The Light that Enlightens Everyone
This week after Christmas is often called Holy Family week. The Church shares the scriptural story of the time right after Jesus’ birth when Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to register for the Census and then, when Herod ordered the killing of all the first born males, flee to Egypt for safety. Jesus was a refugee, like all refugees before and all refugees after. Right now the powers of this world are creating more refugees than ever.
I think of this because of the very real truth that each of us belong to three families. We have our biological family into which we were born. We also have our church family, or “I don’t do Church” family, whatever might be the case. The third family we belong to is the human family. I’m reminded of one congregation, who, when the drums were beating to invade Iraq in 2002, all put on “I have family in Iraq” buttons.
Sometimes it is difficult to decide which of these “families” is most important. We say or hear things like “My family is the most important to me. My family comes first.” The same kind of statements can be made about our Church family, or maybe not, as the case may be. Early in Jesus’ ministry when he was addressing a crowd of people, his mother and family approached the group and asked for Jesus.
“Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brother?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
I would suggest, if we look at Jesus’ words and actions, that our human family is the most important of our three families. His biological mother and brothers and sisters (cousins?) were close by, and his disciples (the budding church) were who knows where. It seems that Jesus was talking about all those sitting around him. They, representing the human family, were his brothers and sisters. Were they pure and morally perfect? Did they never sin or hurt others? If they were anything like us, they probably did. So, in what sense were they doing God’s will?
Those folks put themselves in the presence of Jesus, listened to his words, and, slowly but surely, allowing their thinking to change (repentance) to adopt Jesus’ way of looking at the world.
This way of looking at the world and our fellow human beings would not have become possible if it wasn’t for Jesus’ Incarnation among us.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law (please excuse the interruption here, but “law” refers to the whole institution of sacrifice, the myriad of ways humans have brought about the sacrifice of others in order to please God), so that we might receive adoption as children (read: know we are part of God our Father’s human family). And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba!’ Father!” So you are no longer a slave (under the law) but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
When I first began to think theologically, I thought this quotation from St. Paul referred only to those who were baptized and everyone else was left out, but I’ve come to understand all people are God’s children, the whole human family, and that we who are baptized are to bring this Good News to the whole world and live accordingly. This was Jesus’ primary ministry and is ours also through Baptism.
So today, gathered for Eucharist, we do God’s will by putting ourselves in the presence of Jesus, listening to the Gospel, and expanding our vision to include care for all of our brothers and sisters in the human family. Jesus is the Light that helps us see this.
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.
|The Reverend John Smith, Vicar|
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