WORD of the DAY
His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3: 31-35)
In today’s brief Gospel, Mark places Jesus at the center of a web of relationships that surround Him with two very different attitudes: the crowd and the relatives, that is, the new family that listens and those of blood ties. The crowd is standing around Jesus and is seated in the attitude characteristic of those who are listening. Then there are the Lord’s relatives who instead, are outside, standing. Their being outside is a pen stroke that clearly says it is not enough to belong to Jesus’ family to think oneself ipso facto included in the circle of those who listen to the Lord.
However, this distinction is not obvious for anyone, not even for His Mother and relatives. The fundamental condition for everyone is only that of ‘doing God’s will’. Then we hear the Teacher’s question: “Who is my mother and who are my sisters and brothers?” Then He looks around Him as though expressing His choice, embracing His true family and taking His distance from His blood relatives. His new family consists of those who acknowledge the absolute primacy of the Kingdom that renews everything. This does not mean that He is despising His family but rather that the Kingdom has come and creates new ties. Jesus affirms not only detachment but also the universality and freedom of belonging.
His closing words dilate the confines of Jesus’ family beyond the crowd because it offers everyone who wants it the possibility of being part of it as long as they do God’s will. It is not relationships that count but the courage of faith. Thus it was even for Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary.
The voice of St. Augustine
Certainly Mary Most Holy did the Will of the Father and thus it counts more for Mary to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been His mother. Mary is also blessed because of this, because she listened to the word of God and observed it. In fact, she safeguarded the truth more in her mind than in her womb.