37. MY FATHER, MY MOTHER, MY BRETHREN. The new family of the disciples

Created: Monday, 09 December 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

37. MY FATHER, MY MOTHER, MY BRETHREN
The new family of the disciples


1.- The Scripture says that to honour your father and mother is a commandment that drives towards happiness and life: “Honour your father and your mother…. And you will live long and it will be well with you in the land which Yahweh, your God, gives you.” (Dt 5,16). Love to parents is the base of the children’s home: “A father’s blessing secures the future of a family, but a mother’s curse destroys it at its roots… My son , take care of your father in his old age; do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. (Sir 3, 9.13).
2.- Jesus requests the accomplishment of the fourth commandment, that it was being forgotten at his time. Some Pharisees and Scribes, who came from Jerusalem, accuse Jesus saying that his disciples break the law, since they do not wash their hands before eating. He answers them: “And you, why do you break God’s command for the sake of your traditions? Because God commanded: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and: whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But you say that anyone may say to his father or mother: `I cannot help you for I have reserved all I possess for the Temple´.And so you have nullified the command of God for the sake of your traditions. Hypocrites!.” (Mt 15, 1 – 8) As far as the precept to wash the hands before eating is concerned, Jesus says that it is a merely human tradition: “What enters into the mouth does not make a person unclean, but what comes out of the heart” (Mt 15,11.18).
3.- But the Gospel does not defend a sickly paternalism, suffocating the child’s life and growth and impeding him to slowly conquer hid adultness, his freedom and independence. When Jesus, twelve years old, he abandons his parents to appear three days later in the temple, sitting among the doctors, his mother tells him: “Son, why have you done this to us? Don’t you realize that your father and I have been full of sorrow while searching for you?” (Lk 2,48). Jesus gives an answer that they do not understand: “Why were you looking for me? Do you not know that I ought to be in my Father’s house?” (2,49).
4.- It is the awakening of his vocation, but also, according to the growing psychology, the process of a child that begins to leave his mother’s skirts. As the time goes by, the male and female personality formation takes different ways: female’s identity comes forth from an identification process with the mother. On the contrary, males, since they are defined like men, separate the mothers from themselves. Mother’s intimacy and proximity is looked at like a kind of menacing regression. The psychology also identifies the processes of leaving father and mother, which are fought in deep tension and stubborn struggle.
5.- The Catholic Church Catechism comments the fourth commandment as follows: “it is expressly addressed to the children in their relationship with their parents”, but also with their family, their teachers, their employers, their chiefs and those who administer or govern the country (2199). So, deeper than its original meaning, the fourth commandment is used in support of the social order established.
6.- The Catechism smoothes quite a bit the tension introduced in the family and in the society by the Gospel. Besides, it looks like it does not appreciate the novelty that, to that respect, carries in itself the community of disciples. Nevertheless, it says the following: “The familiar ties, although very important in themselves, are not an absolute. At the same time that the child grows towards human and spiritual maturity and autonomy, the singular vocation coming from God also affirms with more clarity and strength. The parents must respect this call and favour the answer of their children following it”. “The first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus” (2232), “to belong to God’s family (2233).
7.- In the Gospel line, family is not the first. Jesus places the disciples community above the family. One day his mother and his brothers arrived. They let him know: Listen, your mother, your brothers and your sisters are outside looking for you. Jesus answers: “Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking around at those who sat there he said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.” (Mc 3,33-35). In another occasion, while Jesus was teaching, a woman raised her voice and said: Blessed is the one who bore you and nursed you!. But he replied: “Surely blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it as well” (Lk 11, 27- 28). The Gospel introduces tension and, at the same time, carries a novelty in itself. So that, you not only shall honour your father and your mother, but those who listen the word of God will be your family.
8.- In Jesus mission, Mary almost disappear. Saint Mathews and Saint Luke smooth tensions between mother and son and, also, with the family. At the end, they perceive that Mary has accepted the Word since the beginning. Saint Mark is more critical. He says that the relatives go to look for him because they think that he is out of his mind (Mk 3, 21). And Saint John adds: “Even his brothers do not believe in him” (Jn 7,5). The family does not understand Jesus mission. More over, its position is near that of the scribes, who affirm: He is under the power of Beelzebul (Mk3,22).
9.- Jesus call places the disciple confronting radical options: above any wealth, above the family, above oneself. The conversion to the Gospel includes a permanent fight and a continuous freedom exercise. “If you come to me, without giving up your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14,26; see Mt 10,37). Jesus is the dissension cause and signal of contradiction. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and daughter; a daughter in law against her mother in law. Your enemies will be the members of your family.” (Mt11, 34-36). Jesus disciple leaves his own father (Mk 1,20), he leaves everything, but he receives one hundred times for one: houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and lands, and persecutions as well (Mk 10,30). The disciple does not call father to anyone on earth, because “only one is our father” (Mt 23,9) and all of us are brothers.
10.- In front of Jesus Christ, those who knew Jesus (in general) stood at a distance (Lk 23,49; see Ps 38,12 and 31,12). But Mary appears with the loved disciple standing near the cross (Jn 19,25-26). Afterwards, she does not appear in any resurrection experience. Perhaps the pain caused by Jesus death made to her difficult to see the resurrection signals. Mary is near the cross with the mother’s pain, so unique (Lam 1,12) as the sword that pierces her soul (Lk 2, 35). Jesus invites Mary to live a new motherhood in the loved disciple community, to advance a step in the faith, to be mother in another way, in a new, not biological, relationship: “Woman, this is your son” (Jn 19,26), a son who will not be born from the womb, but from the heart. Finally, Jesus mother and his brothers appear praying with the disciples (Acts 1,14).
*Dialogue: Who are my mother and my brothers?