Whoever Does The Will of God

Jesus Teaching at TableThe first reading for Mass today, from the book of Hebrews, repeats these words twice:

“Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”

Then, when you read the gospel today, Jesus reinforced this verse in the Old Testament scriptures, when he told his followers:

“For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

This seems to be the main theme for the readings for Mass today, to do the will of God. People get so sidetracked sometimes when they read today’s gospel.  Protestants pluck out the two words, “his brothers” and focus on the fact that they think Mary did not remain a virgin after giving birth to Jesus, because he had brothers. However, Joseph was older, and if he had been married before,, then he more than likely had children from a previous marriage.  Jesus’s “brothers” might actually have been his step brothers.

Another line of thought is that the word “brother” and “cousin” mean the same thing in Hebrew, because there is no word for “cousin” in the Hebrew language.  So, Jesus’s “brothers” were probably his cousins.  That seems to be the most accepted line of thought in the Catholic tradition.

(See how easy it is to get distracted from the main theme of doing God’s will, when we think of other things instead?)

Then, we can become even more distracted by the words that Jesus spoke to the crowd, when he heard that his mother and “brothers” were standing outside, asking for him:

“Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

So, another rabbit trail to pursue, is that Jesus was ignoring his mother and brothers that were standing outside asking for him.  That sounds almost callus.  After all that Mary did for Jesus, he couldn’t even stop what he was doing long enough to go see her when she came to visit him?   And then, to top it all off, Jesus claimed that his listeners were his mother, brothers and sisters!

Ok, let’s go on to another line of thought … that we are supposed to ignore our families, like Jesus did in today’s gospel, and focus on God instead.  Hmmm … that sounds more than a little callused as well.  Did Jesus really mean that?

Yes and no.

Remember the two great commandments that Jesus gave us?

1.) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”

2.) “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

A lot of people get these two commandments reversed.  They love the people right in front of them, because it is easier to love someone you can see.  It’s a lot harder to love Someone you can’t see.

Throughout Jesus’s life, he always directed people back to loving God the Father though. And, throughout all of history, God the Father was a jealous God.  When people forgot Him, or turned from Him, or pursued other people instead of Him, then God got upset and threatened to punish them.

Ok, this this sounds pretty callous now, doesn’t it?  That God wants us to love Him more than our families?  But, it’s true.

The first three of the Ten Commandments are also about loving God. The remaining seven of the ten commandments are about loving other people. This does not mean to ignore our families, it just means to keep our priorities straight.

Our families are not God, and should not have the number one priority in our lives. God is a being in His own right. He continuously sought mankind throughout history, since the very beginning of recorded time, to reveal Himself to us, to help us know that He is real.  We are made in His image and likeness, even if we can’t see Him.

God has many of the same emotions we do, but yet His love is pure.  And, that is the rationale, for loving God above all others.  Our family and friends do not always love us as they should, and stand by us unwaveringly, like God does, no matter how close of a relationship we have with them.  God is a jealous God, and He wants us for Himself.

To do God’s will is to show Him that we love Him.  God’s will is that – we know Him, and love Him, and serve Him – above every single person in our lives.  (Baltimore Catechism, lesson #1.)

When this priority is established first, then our love will flow out with a more pure intention to our family and friends, and all those we encounter in our lives.  The source of perfect love is God.  We draw our love, from the pure wellspring of His love for us.  The waters can get very muddy if we try to rely on other people, as our only source of love.  Only God satisfies our deepest desires, our deepest need to be loved unconditionally, and we can not give to others, what we ourselves have not received.