September 24, 2019
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.” (Luke 8:19-21)
I remember a moment when my daughter Maggie was sixteen and stood in our kitchen and said no, Dad: you’re wrong. I was getting mad at her for something, and she was bravely standing up to me, and even in that moment I thought, she’s right. However good a parent is, however loving, a child finally needs to be her own self, to define herself not by her father’s expectations or by her mothers’s but by what’s best for her.
And I think maybe that’s what Jesus is talking about today, as he was a few weeks ago in the Sunday Gospel when he said we should “hate” our mothers and fathers. He’s being hyperbolic, of course. He’s not saying we should reject our mothers and fathers, or our mothers and our brothers. He’s exaggerating. He’s using mothers and brothers as symbols of the world, even the good things of the world, and how we have to ask for the grace of indifference, to use the Ignatian word, to love nothing more than God, to care about nothing more than God—exactly the theme of last Sunday’s Gospel, too, that “we can’t serve both God and mammon.”
Our mothers and our brothers are not Hewlett Packard. Hewlett Packard doesn’t define us. Our mothers and brothers are not OSU. OSU doesn’t define us. Our mothers and brothers are not Apple or Google or Amazon, or Fox News, or MSNBC.
Our home isn’t in the future and it’s not in the past. It’s not in what has happened or what might. Our home is here, now. It’s in this particular moment, this particular day, in mid-September, when the leaves are starting to turn and the days are getting shorter.
Nothing is wanting to us, Ruth Burrows prays again. All is given.
Strengthen us, O Given One, to be glad.