We all have loyalties, many loyalties. Growing up, there is a hometown loyalty, loyalties to organizations we belong to, loyalties to sports teams. I have been a Royals fan since 1969, and if you’re a true fan you are loyal whether the team is winning or losing. It would be nice if they won more often, but…
Communities can call for our loyalty: city, state, country. Many offer the ultimate gift as part of their loyalty to our country, their lives, and we are grateful to them.
Family is one of our greatest loyalties. There is no connection like flesh and blood, it’s always there. Granted, our families can drive us crazy: mine has, and I’ve tried to return the favor. However, we’re always there for one another, we are always together.
In Jesus’ time, family was the first loyalty, even before church and state. You never said no to your family, and if you embarrassed them publicly or put them to shame, they could put you to death and the state would do nothing. If you thought it was hard being a kid today, imagine what it was like them.
In today’s Gospel story, it’s a chaotic situation. Jesus is in front of a hostile crowd, and his family has heard he’s back home in Capernum, so they’ve come to get him, thinking he’s gone crazy. What Jesus is accused of is the scriptural equivalent of fake news, and he demolishes it pretty easily, shows it to be a contradiction in itself. He offers some thoughts on living life and what comes first.
Then they tell him that his family is there. In that culture, Jesus has no choice: he must come when they call, obedience to family is complete and immediate. They don’t understand him and don’t believe him, they think he should return to live quietly with them. But Jesus turns the tables, when he looks around and says that whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to Him. He has set up a new priority, a loyalty above others: loyalty to Him. He has expanded his family.
Jesus has given us everything, poured out himself for us completely. He shows us the way to fullness of life in this world and guides us to eternal life in the next. Christ’s Blood runs in our veins, it is what makes the world go around, it holds us together, personally and holds the human race, the world together. As we consider our loyalties, as we discern who comes first in our lives, as Christians it should be Christ that has our first loyalty, we should follow his way before all others.
The Christ’s family is growing, and reaches out to embrace the world. The Blood of Christ reminds us of who we are and who the most important person in our life is. Nothing else on earth deserves the same loyalty, the same obedience, the same commitment. It is only when we put our loyalty, our trust, our love, our faith in Christ first, and judge everything else by the standard of His Great Commandment, that our life together will find focus, we will become the people God has made us to be, and the world will find peace and justice at last.