Pray As You Go, the devotional resource, today focussed on the above passage.
The hearer was invited to think about their mother and brothers, sisters and father, as appropriate. It's the first time I've heard/read or reflected on those verse since my mother's death, and that made a difference to how I heard and responded to them.
We're not a close family, not least as neither of our parents were close to their own families (something of a trait in their generation I think, based on what such cousins as I have established contact with tell me). So the death of my mother is the end of an era - the essential, central link between my siblings and myself is gone and, it's pretty much down to me to keep up the work of contact.
The image of a close-knit family, centred on a mother, is a lovely one, but it's not even remotely my experience now... Indeed, unlike Jesus whose family were interested in what he was doing, and actively concerned for his well-being, I can't say my siblings are interested in what I get up to (and, if I'm brutally honest, I'm not a whole lot better when it comes to their lives... the distant maiden aunt who always remembers birthdays and Christmas but that's about it).
Jesus in this passage redefines his family as a chosen, intentional, community. I get that. I've preached on it, I've taught it in Sunday School. And of course it's true. I am far, far closer to those among whom I minister than to other people; the language of 'siblings-in-Christ' trips easily from my lips.
But today, in a new way, with new eyes, I hear the first part of the passage from the perspective of those who do not have all, or any, of these blood relatives - close or otherwise. The viewpoint of those whose parents or siblings have died, or are estranged, or are far away, or who never knew or never had such relatives.
Jesus, who knew the love of a large family, even if with over-protective mother and siblings, tradition tells us your father (the human one) died early, which must have affected you and them. You, who know the challenges of family life, who understand the mixed feelings that arise when things change, invite us to be part of your family... Thank you for that invitation, which we accept, and for that promise, in which we trust... but in the 'ouch' moments show us where we may find whatever it is we need, human or divine, to bring the renewed wholeness we need.
My relationship with my Mum wasn't perfect. She was, among other things, over-protective, and at times interfering and annoying... but she was my mother, and I loved her.