Editor’s Note: This is the second of a five-part series of columns Father Jeffrey Kirby is writing for the month of October, which is dedicated to Mary and the rosary.
Second truth: Life is a family affair.
Life has an amazing inner focus on community, and most of it surrounds the family. Weddings, birthday parties, funerals, and celebrations of all types involve the men and women we call relatives.
Family life is central to our lives as human beings.
Whether we like them or not, whether we enjoy their company or not, we all know that there is something important about being together in a family. Even if it’s the sorrow of not having a family, we all have a deep family sense in our hearts and a desire to be with others who know us and who are known by us.
Something so fundamentally human could not be missing from the earthly life of Jesus Christ. This basic aspect of reality is plainly seen in his life and mission. Fully human, Jesus belonged to a family and a chosen people. His work as our redeemer is marked by this astute family sense and identity.
This seems peculiar to our contemporary, Western world. So many of us struggle to define ourselves in individualistic terms. We want to be independent, autonomous and left alone. We see our relationship with Jesus in exclusive terms, it’s “me and Jesus.” The interior move towards family life and true relationship is repressed and oftentimes forgotten.
In this arena, the role of Jesus’ mother, the saints and angels, all seem like distractions and barriers to our encounter with Christ.
Jesus’ approach to us, however, is much different. As seen in the Bible and in our tradition, the initiatives of Jesus always have a strong emphasis on a covenant with a people. God wants a family, and it’s not just about the individual. It’s about the person as a member of God’s greater family.
In his public ministry, Jesus sought to clearly teach this lesson. Once, his mother and relatives came and called to him. He was told, “Your mother and your kinsman are outside, asking for you.” He replied, “Here are my mother and my kinsman. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister, and mother” (Mk 3:31-35). Rather than dismissing his natural family, Jesus is opening up his family to all who do the will of his heavenly Father.
Jesus comes to heal wounds, unite what has fallen apart and bring home those who have lost their way.
In Christ, we can realize the family relationship that God wants to have with us. Rather than distractions and barriers, the Virgin Mary and the saints become a part of us, and a gift from God to us along the way of life. We see Jesus’ mother as a consolation and a help to us. We see the saints, the friends of God, as our older brothers and sisters who encourage and protect us. Our inner desire for family finds its fulfillment and greatest expression in the family of God through Jesus Christ.
Father Kirby is the parochial vicar at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken. To read more, visit his Web site at www.jeffrey-kirby.com.