23 September 2008 St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Proverbs 21, 1-6, 10-13; Psalm 119; Luke 8, 19-21
The attitude of Jesus when told about the presence of his mother and relatives was, at first, disturbing. He was teaching a crowd of people, and when someone informed him that his family wanted to see Him, He said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and acts on it.” I guess He took the opportunity to teach the crowd an important fact that goes beyond co-sanguinity.
Let’s put it this way. Our deepest relationships are not necessarily with our blood relatives. In fact, our parents may not know our secrets. But our best friends do. And our closest friends are not our ka-pamilya. They are not related to us by blood or by affinity. Our circle of friends are brought together by a common interest like swimming or watching movies. Or bound by a common principle or a belief system like religious and civic organizations. People who follow these principles understand each other. The first reading is taken from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs are a collection of sayings written in poetic form. They instruct us, and their credibility lies in the pattern of experiences of a community. The poetic form enables the new generation to remember it. Organizational goals and principles are embodied in the laws of the organization. People who follow the laws believe in the preamble and constitutions of the organization. That is why they belong to that particular affiliation. When we follow the commands of the Lord, we affirm our belongingness to Him. His principles becomes ours. His goal becomes our goal. We enter a covenant.
Second, we know we belong to a group because we share the same memory, like high school friends or college buddies. It is like sharing photo albums in family gatherings. The photos spark snippets of anecdotes which every one enjoys recalling. For many Christians, our common memoria is written in Scripture. The mass is an occasion to celebrate our common memory. When we read a passage in scripture, we are re-connecting with people from the past who knew those stories. When we re-enact the table-fellowship of Jesus, we re-live the story of Jesus and the disciples. By remembering, we make the story our own. By prayer and reflection, we identify with their stories and see our lives having the same struggles as theirs.
Finally, it affirms that there is a loyalty that goes beyond our earthly relationships. Parental obedience is not the absolute rule. Over and above our parent’s wishes, is God’s will. If one discerns that his or her parents’ will is not in accordance with God’s will for us, the person is bound to follow his conscience. Meaning, he or she could disobey since the highest loyalty we owe to God. Our parents wish us well; but ultimately, we are to forge our own destiny. This is my personal experience: I have left home and family to follow my vocation as a priest — despite my parents wish for me to become a doctor. But since they saw that I am at peace and happy, they eventually supported me. We have to understand that as parents they want us to be happy, and they are afraid that we might take the wrong path. But as Jesus said, when we hear the call of God and we follow. We will eventually find happiness and belongingness in the great family of God.