July 21, 2020 – Tuesday 16th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072120.cfm)
How important really is your family? How much quality time and presence do you give to your family?
Our experience of the home quarantine has given us time to be with our families. Many of my friends have expressed how they have spent quality time compared before. I am sure that each of us too have realized many things about the importance of our family relationship.
This allows me to reflect today on family relationship. For most of us, our families are the source of our joy, security, identity, confidence and assurance. However, for some of us also, our family can be the source of our deepest pain, traumas and bitterness in life. Thus, we cannot deny that it is in the context of our families that we also first experience “being loved” and “being rejected.”
Moreover, in the growth and development of our Christian faith it is also within the context of our families that we first experience God and we first imagine God. Thus, when I was growing up I was introduced to a God who was rather strict. God was someone that everybody should fear. I was told that this God punishes a naughty boy and rewards a good boy. As a young boy, I tried to be good to avoid God getting angry at me and punish me later on. Unconsciously, I also became fearful to God.
What motivated me then, to do good was out of fear from being punished rather than out of love. I imagined God like an old man holding a stick who is ready to strike a boy who has been naughty. This image of God definitely haunted me. This was my very experience also at home from my parents who were ready to strike me with a stick whenever I become naughty and disobedient.
However, later on when I became conscious of my faith-relationship with God, then, I realized that God’s true character is not the one that I first thought of. Experiences would actually tell me that God is kind and generous, loving and forgiving. This again is my experience of God with my family. I came to know and became confident that God loves, and in His kindness, God reveals his gift of presence to us in the most intimate way where we could feel Him. When we allow God to reveal himself to us, then God brings healing and reconciliation, freedom and peace.
This is the assurance proclaimed to us in the Book of Prophet Micah. God is not someone who delights in the destruction of those whom God loves. God delights in mercy and showing kindness to His people. God shows compassion and faithfulness. Indeed, Prophet Micah wanted us to hold on this grace and to be confident with this grace.
Moreover, talking about family also, this brings me of today’s Gospel. Jesus brought out a new idea of being a family where we too shall experience deeper God’s presence and invitations for us.
Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters?” This scenario was a moment for Jesus to teach something very important to those followed him. The response of Jesus was a way of expanding the meaning of family relationship by pointing out the members of his family. These were those people listening to him, gathered around him to do the will of his Father. Of course, Jesus did not reject his immediate family but he expanded the essence of family relationship.
Obviously, this family is beyond blood relationship. This is toward a deeper spiritual family relationship. This calls us to identify ourselves and others to be part of a bigger family of God.
But how do we really belong to this family? Jesus told us that it is by doing the will of his Father. And the first step of doing the Father’s will is to LISTEN to the Son. Indeed, it is in listening that we also realize and become aware of God’s invitation for us.Tweet
It is also clear that Jesus pointed out that his mother, brothers and sisters are those who were gathered around him and together listening to him. Certainly, there is wisdom in listening together, as a community or as family because the process of discernment becomes deeper, more realistic, clearer and empowering when we listen together and discern together on what God wants us to be and what God wants us to do.
This is what we are basically doing as we gather today in this Holy Eucharist. All of us present physically in this Church and also those of you who are joining us via livestream. As a family, we are called to discern and listen carefully to Jesus and at the same time to the voices of our brothers and sisters who are in pain and suffering in many ways.
To sum up there are two invitations that I would like you to dwell today.
First, be in touched with our personal God-experience. This will help us to have grounding in our faith-relationship with the Lord. Be confident with the assurance of Prophet Micah that God delights in our freedom not in our destruction.
Second, allow ourselves to be part of God’s family by listening to Jesus through the scriptures and experiencing again his presence through the grace of the sacraments and through us and among us.
Hopefully, this will make us more inclusive and welcoming as a family and discerning as we listen and respond to the voices of those who are in pain, who are oppressed and those who are condemned by others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR