Unnerving and Unsettling

Mark 3: 20-35 – The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time – for June 10, 2012

“Who are my mother and my brothers…” (Mark 3:33)

Can I write anything new about Jesus and his, or the Bible’s, family values? Others have shared insights—those I agree and disagree with—far better than me.

Under the best of circumstances, whatever I now ponder about parents or children, marriage or familial relationships, will also likely be a repetition of earlier attempts to struggle with Biblical values through my sermons or web ramblings. Under the worst of circumstances, I’ll unintentionally crib ideas from those “better than me” I’ve already mentioned.

And yet having nothing new to say won’t stop the inspiration and irritation that invariably surfaces when I read one of the Gospels most troubling passages. Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21 present variations of Jesus’ mother and brothers arriving while he’s teaching . . . but they share a singular reaction. Upon hearing his family is nearby, the Nazarene asks the harsh question, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” His jarring response was not his kin, not those who grew up with him, but instead those who have become his followers.

His own flesh and blood family . . . rejected? Mark’s Gospel was the most brutal about setting this scene. At Mark 3:19, after listing Jesus’ disciples and right before a “crowd came together” to listen to his preaching, the writer of the earliest Gospel claimed “he went home.” In other words, Mark depicted Jesus’ rejecting his kinfolk in the very place where his mother comforted him on her lap and his siblings played hide-and-go seek.

Family values?

In my lifetime, spanning the beginnings of the Cold War in the early 1950s to the current information age, family values have been trumpeted as what we have lost and what we must regain. According to some of my fellow Christians, divorce, gay marriage, single-parenting and women in the workplace (to name a few of our modern “ailments”) have eroded or discarded the Bible’s true values . . . the scriptural foundation of how a family should look and act and believe. Continue reading →