Happy autumn!!! As the seasons change, the outward signs of their transformation are signs of inner transformations of how we see the world, ourselves and God. During this pandemic, it has come home to me that my understanding of what comprises a family needs to undergo a transformation. Most of the people who made up my family are gone, physically, leaving me feeling a bit lost.
Dinners and holidays are completely different now that those who gathered and cooked and baked are gone. This is depressing...it is life. I am in the process of seeing “family” in a way that transforms biology. This is the very point of Jesus in today’s gospel when he is told that his mother and brothers are looking for him. Enigmatically, he tells the messenger that ANYONE who does the roll of his Father in heaven is mother , brother and sister. Mary clearly understood and would never have felt slighted by these words since she would become “Mother” of the whole Church!!
Families are not to be limited or defined by biology, at least those families who claim to be followers of Jesus. But it’s clear that for most Christians, family is all about blood and loyalty. The gospel teaching hasn’t quite sunk in as our families are largely tribal, enclosed communities of insiders and outsiders.
My parents had a bit of an inkling of this difficult teaching when they included friends and neighbors at our Christmas Eve dinner. They even changed the menu to include foods that were not Italian to satisfy a wider variety of taste buds. Tradition needed to be modified to meet the needs of this larger group of people. And This group clearly went beyond biology.
The community of the Church is called to mirror a different way of being family to include those who might not fit in their own family or those who have no family. I was so blessed to have decades of wonderful family gatherings and celebrations. But life has changed, like the seasons, and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as WE change, allowing new understandings of life and love to emerge . Clinging to past traditions is actually a horrible way of living because it sets one up for sadness and frustration; nothing stays the same. Letting go of the past is necessary if we are to embrace a future of hope.