When Families Oppose God's Call

20 January 2007: Saturday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 3, 20-21: When Families Oppose God’s Call

Jesus once remarked that if anyone follows him, the person’s greatest enemy becomes one’s family and relatives. In Matthew 10, 35-36, Jesus remarked, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” I guess this remark was not made without an experience. The Gospel passage today from Mark tells us that Jesus actually experienced this. His family thought that He was crazy when He decided to embark on his ministry; and that they thought that they have to restrain and stop Him. Let us see why.

First, Jesus left home and his carpentry business in Nazareth. Remember, Jesus was around 30 years old when He embarked on His public ministry. Joseph had since died, and Jesus took over the family business. Jesus was a tektōn, a skilled carpenter, a craftsman who can build a simple table to a ship. Homer said that tektōns make huge buildings and temples. Thus, carpentry was a flourishing business. To His family, he was crazy: he left a money-making career, and became a wandering preacher who had no place to lay His head on.

Second, Jesus’ career went into direct collision with the powers of society. No one would have thought to challenge the religious and political leaders of his time: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Scribes. To His family, he was indeed crazy. Not only will it bring dishonor to them; but He would become a great shame. For example, who among us would like to be in direct opposition to the present power-holders such as government officials who can kill you and members of your family? You just don’t endanger your life, but also the life of your family.

Third, Jesus started to organize a weird group of disciples. They were fishermen, a tax-collector who is in great animosity with a nationalist. Peter, James and John were fishermen. Matthew was the tax collector who is pro-government, and Simon was a Zealot, a rebel, an ancient NPA. During the time of Jesus, disciples of rabbis did not include men such as them; they included educated men who were people they want to be with that could add to their credibility or worth. They were not particularly the friends ambitious men would like to have.

Jesus therefore abandoned security, safety and risked a lot to follow His Father’s will.

The experience of Jesus is not alien to many. To those who have entered religious life or even those who dared considered it had one or many members of his or her family opposing their decision. To those who have decided to volunteer for church ministry such as being choir members had their family as hindrances to such services. Nagsasayang lang daw sila ng oras. Family members think that to be of service to God is a crazy idea.

And so today we reflect. Have I, at one point in my life, been a hindrance to others’ serving the Lord? Have I dictated to others my will and not God’s? For example, as parents, did you dictate and insist on what you want them to be, not what they actually want for themselves, especially in choosing their life’s career and vocation? Even by action, did you give them a bad example? For instance, by not being participative at mass --- whether one refuses to respond or sing --- did you provide your children the perfect example of un-involvement at worship? If Jesus --- and many of our saints and heroes --- did not take this great risk, do you think we would have been saved? By thinking that serving God and country is crazy, you have just contributed to the fall of humankind.

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