Grace to you!
What would have happened if heaven were based on biological family relationships? What will happen if sharing in the life of Christ is based on biological affiliation?
I suppose it would mean that only the Jews would be saved. It would mean that those born in the Middle East would be included and others excluded. It would also mean that all who trace their family tree to Jesus or Mary or the apostles are assured of heaven.
We would end up with tribal religion. It would be so exclusive that the greater percentage of the world would have no chance. You may not even have a chance.
Other consequences would be the triumph of racism, ethnicism and tribalism. It would also mean a blanket approval of clannism and cronyism. People would promote those who look like them or belong to their club, and shut the door to those that are different. It would mean the worst type of segregation. It would mean an endorsement of injustice of the worst kind. I wonder how such a religious faith would be. Unfortunately, some who claim to profess Christ today tend to think this way and act this way.
Good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ has not offered us such a faith. Rather, he shows the radical nature of the Christian faith by teaching us that the most important thing is not biological family, cultural or regional affiliation with him, but spiritual birth into him. “Doing the will of his Father.”
We read from the Gospel of Matthew 12:46-50 his response to a man who let him know his family members were outside waiting for him. “Stretching out his hand toward his disciples,” Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt 12:49-50).
In another place, when a woman extolled Mother Mary, the mother of the Lord, for being the womb that bore Jesus. Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:28).
In either case, the Lord was not disrespecting his mother and family. Rather, he was showing that the grace of being affiliated to him is dependent on the quality of one doing God’s will. We are brothers and sisters of the Lord when we do his will, which is also the will of the Father.
When we are baptized, we are baptized into the Lord. We are born again to begin a new life, the life of the Spirit of Christ. We are graced to become doers of the Lord’s will. That is what makes us members of the family of God in word and in deed. It is a spiritual rebirth open for all.
Hence, one of the signs of this rebirth is being like Christ. Loving the way Jesus loves. Seeing each other as family. It doesn’t matter where anyone comes from, because in Christ, we are all brethren. We are family. People who act in this manner are truly the family of God.
I pray that God will give us the grace to look beyond biological affiliations and see one another as brethren.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 16 Ordinary Time: Ex 14:21-15:1;18-20; Mt 12:46-50]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.