24 Jan. Tuesday of Week Three
Also: St Francis de Sales
2 Samuel 6:12ff. David dances before the ark being brought into Jerusalem. The celebration ends with a sacred banquet.
Mark 3:31ff. Turning to the crowd, Jesus declares:”whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister”
The smaller and wider family
Fidelity to the will of God, says today’s gospel, makes a family of all followers of Jesus. Jesus identified the true disciple, not by by rank or position, special privileges acquired at birth, nor talents, gifts and financial resources – only by conscientious fidelity in the day by day routine of life. Jesus asks us to undertake all we do as though in the context of family life, with my neighbour as sister or brother, mother or father to me.
At first reading this story seems to show Jesus as breaking with family ties rather than as forming a new one for his followers. When his mother Mary and others of his relatives come to him, one might expect him to drop everything else and devote all his attention to them. By contrast with Jesus’ coolness towards his relatives, family eagerness marked the action of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt, who, when word was brought to him that his father Jacob had almost arrived hitched up his chariot and rode to meet his father. When he saw him, he flung himself on his neck and wept in his arms, and the aged father said “At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive” (Gen 46:29-30).
The contrast between the actions of Joseph and of Jesus startles us. Yet we also recall how Joseph too distanced himself from his brothers when they first came to Egypt for grain. Evidently, there are moments when we should reach inward to our intimate family circle and other moments when we turn outward to share family love with outsiders. Jesus gives example of both moments : he is conscious of his world family; later from the cross in his dying moments he provides for his mother Mary (John 19:25-27). Yet even this last tender concern for Mary is linked to his relationship with the entire church. Here as elsewhere in the gospels, Mary is representative of the church, the centre of a praying community (Acts 1:12-14).
The first readings are illuminated by the gospel. If the will of God is normally found and fulfilled in the small events of family life and in our sharing of family love and concern with outsiders, then we can see in Hebrews that God is not disparaging the daily sacrifices of the old covenant. Its thrust, rather, is that we should sustain our daily, small actions by the strength and goodness of Jesus. Repeatedly we need to turn to him, to purify our motives, to see our goals more clearly, to infuse more sympathy and concern into our actions and to form an ever wider circle of love. The one offering of Jesus sanctifies all of our daily actions. The essence of his sacrifice is the gift of his will: “As is written of me in the book, I have come to do your will, O God.”
God summons us at times to rejoicing and celebration, as when David, girt with a liturgical apron came dancing before the Lord with abandon, when he and all the Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. The spontaneity of children can teach grown-ups that such is the Kingdom of God. Children too can huddle up with warm embrace in the close family circle; they can also run through the neighbourhood and wave at total strangers. They are teaching us the meaning of Jesus’ words as he gazed at the wide circle of people from all parts of the land: These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.
2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19
It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, an with the sound of the trumpet.
They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
Gospel: Mark 3:31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”