Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see
him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone
told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see
you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s
word and put it into practice.” Luke
I’m very blessed to be married to a wonderful woman
called Beata. But if you were to ask her about what irritates her most
about me, I suspect she would tell you it’s my poor listening skills. The
trouble is when she talks to me, I hear her, but I don’t always listen.
There is a big difference between hearing someone and
listening to them. As God complains to the people of Israel in Isaiah
“You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open,but
you do not listen." (Is. 42.20)
I imagine we have all had the experience of talking to
someone whose attention has not been on us, but on someone or something else,
or who is more interested in getting their point of view over than listening to
what we have to say.
In contrast think to a time when you have felt as though
you have been properly listened to. That person would have given you
their undivided attention. You will feel as though you have been
understood, and that the person listening to you hasrespondedin
some way to what you have said.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus makes the point that
his true family are those who not only hear God’s word, but also respond to it,
it into practice.
Jesus was in Capernaum at the time, 30 miles from his
home town of Nazareth. Luke tells us that Jesus’ mother and brothers came
looking for him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crush of people in
the house where he was speaking. It has been suggested that the purpose of
Jesus’ families visit was to take him away. On the one hand, they may
have thought he was mad or an embarrassment to the family. Or they might
have been concerned that Jesus would get himself or them into trouble with the
authorities because of the provocative things he was saying and doing, such as
questioning traditional interpretations of the Law.
When the message that Jesus’ family are looking for him
reaches Jesus, he responds “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the
word of Godand
act on it.”
Luke sets this incident with Jesus and his family just
after the parable of the sower. In that parable he talks about how a
sower went out to sow seed in a field, and that some of this seed feel on the
path and was trampled on, and the birds ate it. Some fell on the rock, and as
it grew it withered in the sun. Some seed fell among thorns and as it
grew the thorns choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, which when it
grew produced a crop 100 times more than was sown. At the end of this
parable Jesus says that the seed that falls on good soil represents those who“hear the word, retain it, and by persevering
produce a crop.”
There is a link therefore between this parable, and the
incident with Jesus and his family. Because both times, Jesus talks about
hearing the word of God and responding to it.
There is a challenge here for us.
How do we respond to the word of God? Do we allow God’s word to challenge
us, and to change us? Or do we hear, but not listen? Are we
hear God’s word and put it into practice”?
Jesus was talking to Jews, people who regarded themselves
as God’s chosen people merely by birth and circumcision. But Jesus makes
a radical statement that belonging to God has little to do with blood or race,
it has to do with the relationship we establish with God, through faithful
Our discipleship too, is just not determined by our being
by being baptised, or attending church, or by observing the external
requirements of our religion but by our total commitment to the Gospel and to
an unconditional following of Jesus. Only then can we truly be said to be his
brother or sister.