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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dan Peeler
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.” Matthew 12. 46

A Word of Hope

Tomorrow is yet another New Year’s Eve, a holiday that always reminds me of all those nostalgic family gatherings from my childhood. I still enjoy celebrations with the wonderful family of my birth, but I spend a lot more time with my extended family, most of whom I have met and known many years through the church. There are some around us who would call this sort of diverse celebration as symptomatic of the dissolution of the traditional American family, but I see it as an optimistic and more expansive definition of the term “family” itself.

Extended families are by no means a new concept. Remember that time in Matthew 12 when Jesus was addressing a gathering of his friends and followers and someone announced that his mother, brothers and sisters were waiting outside? He didn’t suddenly bolt out the door, abandoning all others. He just calmly turned to the messenger and then quite succinctly redefined “family” for all time. “Here are my mother and brothers and sisters.” We have so few recorded narratives about Jesus’ personal life in the Gospels, but there are some facts about which we can be certain. One is that he never watched “Father Knows Best” or any other 1950’s model of the average family. Another is that he therefore had no pre-conceived notion about the Typical American Family, and was much more concerned about the future of the World Family. He ended the story in Matthew’s Gospel by clearly defining that family: “for whoever does the will of my Parent in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” That would be a family that strives its whole collective lives to love God and to love their neighbor. That’s my family of choice.

Loving parent of us all, teach us gratitude for belonging to a family; be it family of birth, family of choice, or family of one, and to show others how to be the kind of mothers and brothers and sisters who always seek to do your will.

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