Obedience to the Father

July 20, 2021
Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr—Optional Memorial


“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Matthew 12:48–50

These questions of Jesus were posed by Him to a crowd of people who were inside a house where He was teaching. His mother and brothers arrived outside asking to speak to Him. First of all, it should be noted that the word “brothers” in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages did not necessarily mean siblings. The same word was used to refer to anyone within the same extended family, such as cousins. Therefore, it is clear that Jesus’ mother and some other male relatives were coming to see Him.

Jesus uses that opportunity to continue teaching the crowd about the family of God. He clearly states that we become a member of His family simply by obeying the will of the Father in Heaven. Thus, Jesus’ definition of family exceeds blood relationships to include everyone who is spiritually united to Him through the unity of their wills with that of the Father.

One reason this is so helpful to understand is because it reveals to us our identity. God wants us to belong. He wants us to understand who we are called to be. We are called to be children of the Father, brothers and sisters of Christ, and even mothers and fathers of our Lord in a spiritual sense. We become His mothers and fathers in the sense that we bring Him into this world through our obedience to the will of the Father.

Children, from the earliest ages, want to belong. They want friends, they want to be included, they want to have relationships with others. This innate desire is placed within us from the moment of our creation and is central to who we are. And that desire can only be completely fulfilled through our spiritual membership within the family of God.

Think, for a moment, about your own desire for friendship. Oftentimes when two people are the closest of friends they refer to each other as a brother or sister. The bond of friendship is deeply fulfilling because this is what we are made for. But true friendship, true spiritual family bonds, are only fulfilling in the most pure form when they are relationships that result from our unity with the will of the Father. When you are united with the will of the Father and when another is also united to the will of the Father, then this creates a family bond that fulfills on the deepest level. And that bond not only unites us with other Christians, it also deeply unites us with Jesus, as He mentions in this Gospel passage.

Reflect, today, upon these words of Jesus as if they were a form of invitation given to you. He is inviting you into His family. He wants you to belong. He wants you to take your identity in Him. As you seek to enter into full obedience to the will of the Father, consider also the effect that that has on your relationships with others who are also seeking to live the will of the Father. Rejoice in the bond that your mutual obedience to God creates and savor those bonds with much gratitude.

My loving Lord, You have established the human family for unity and love. You invite all people to share in Your family in love. I accept Your holy invitation, dear Lord, and pledge my wholehearted obedience to the will of the Father in Heaven. As I do, I rejoice in the reward of a deepening relationship with You and with all who are united to You. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

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Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Holy Family with a Shepherd By Titian, via Wikimedia Commons