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Family Ties, Family of God, and Family Reunion
Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am grateful for the family you have given me. Thank you for the gift of baptism that introduces me to the faith community through spiritual regeneration. I praise you for the continual showering of your Spirit in my life journey as I grow in intimacy and familiarity with you in communion with the Church. Finally, I pray that nothing will ever separate me from your love that is revealed in Jesus Christ your Son (Romans 8:31). Amen.
- Jesus and His Family: As human beings, we value intimate relationships with family members. We typically derive much joy and pleasure from being with them even when we grow up and live apart. Most of our best memories, including the painful ones, come from these interactions. Through his Incarnation, Jesus also had a human family. Because we know he loved his human family, we may be a bit surprised by his reaction in this Gospel towards his mother and brothers. Jesus was not slighting his family, but was instead welcoming all of us, his future followers, into the intimacy of his immediate family. How blessed we are to be called sons and daughters of God. “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17).
- The Family of God: Jesus, the Son of God, calls his Father Abba. Through Baptism, we became brothers and sisters in Christ. In the Church, priests are referred to as fathers, and there are religious brothers and sisters. Lay people are sons and daughters of the Father. Hence, believers now belong to a family that is not bound by blood but by faith and the sacraments. The spiritual family that unites us through the water of Baptism is deeper and more profound than blood ties. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are … Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2).
- Family Reunion: We may eagerly anticipate the moments of family reunions or meeting up with relatives, but the best family get-together takes place in Heaven. There we meet God our Father, Jesus our Brother, Mary our Mother, all the saints, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and hopefully our earthly relatives. We know by faith that this beatific family reunion will be an occasion of tremendous pleasure and delight. With our eyes on eternity, we patiently await this heavenly family reunion, knowing that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, transform me with the renewal of my mind so that I am no longer conformed to the world (Romans 12:2) but worthy to be called your child. Send forth your Spirit so I may grow in this new creation and meet the world with your sentiments. I ask Mary and the saints to intercede for me so I can eagerly anticipate my divine family reunion.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will purify my attachments to earthly things so that I may better appreciate my natural and spiritual family with faith, hope, and love.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1213-1216 on the sacrament of Baptism. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Holy Baptism, which is the basis of the whole Christian life and the gateway to life in the Spirit. Through Baptism, we are regenerated through water in the word to become your sons and daughters. Increase our awareness of being members of the new spiritual family of the Church so that we can joyfully share in her mission. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, was ordained in 2004 and currently teaches bioethics in Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University. He is the author of many books and articles on bioethics. In his free time, he enjoys Chinese painting and calligraphy.