I remember the first time I told my parents I wanted to become a priest. I remember it vividly as if it happened just yesterday. I remember the very place the conversation took place and their response. They were not very pleased, surprised, yes, and a bit perplexed. My own parents didn’t quite understand what was happening within me for they thought they knew what I would be as an adult: a teacher with a family of his own. A teacher I did become, but not the kind they imagined.
It took some time but my vocation gradually grew on them to the point where they became joyful at my desire to be a priest. Families are the greatest gift given to us, for without them, we wouldn’t become individuals who have the ability to make mature decisions as to how we are going to live our lives. But families, or certain members of our family, frequently don’t understand the decisions we do make about our lives because they don’t truly understand who we are.
In the gospel today, Jesus’ family, those closest to him, thought he was a bit nuts because they didn’t understand him or his mission. He experienced people closest to him who actually thought he was unbalanced because of his preaching and lifestyle. I am eternally grateful that my own parents didn’t react so dramatically and negatively to how I chose to live my life!!!
Hopefully, families can be our greatest source of blessing, but oftentimes, for a number of individuals, their family is the source of pain and alienation. Not all parents or siblings are supportive; not all can accept their loved one for who they really are; some parents actually believe that their child should follow a way of living that they feel appropriate, not what God wants for that child. When you feel such division and rejection with those who are supposed to love you unconditionally, I can’t begin to imagine the inner pain they must have. Jesus certainly can understand.
I pray that every person has a healthy family that encourages them to become the person he or she is meant to become. And that they accept them for who they truly are: their gifts, aspirations, identity and sexuality.