Friday, August 10, 2012

Matthew 12:46-50

“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?”

The Gospel today reminds me of Hospicio de San Jose’s turning cradle. Brother Rael once told me that there was a time before that abandoned children were just put into that turning cradle. From that turning cradle, what nuns would found was a helpless baby without a trace of his or her parents. And for a child to have an identity, the Daughters of Charity nuns would give the child a Christian name and would allow the child to use the surname, San Jose to be a part of the orphanage’s big family. Wherein children could claim that their mother is Mama Mary, their father is Papa Joseph. When you ask a little child from Hospicio, if who is his brother, he would answer, “si Jesus.” Then I asked why, and the child told me, “kasi nagpapakabait din po ako.”

The Gospel reading for today, as far as I remember, is quite controversial. It is controversial for disputes arouse from the opening statements: While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside. Some would believe that Jesus has his brothers from Mary—that Mary bore other children aside from Jesus. But this statement could not easily shaken our faith, nor defy the existing dogma of the church for the meaning of the statement stemmed from a Hebrew culture which is also near to ours. We would also remember that they also practice extended family relationship wherein cousins and friends are all called and own as dear brothers and sisters. Even in Uganda, according to Br. George, this also happens.

But for Jesus, this family ties is not an assurance towards the Kingdom of God. What counts is being a disciple which Jesus goes on to define in terms of doing the will of “the Father.” We would remember that his disciples have left their own families for Jesus. That in our own vocation stories also, there was a point that we needed to live our own families just to follow Jesus.

On the road towards following Jesus, we simply don’t follow. We imitate Jesus and let Him dwell in our hearts. Truly, discipleship is an act of self-giving just like St. Peter Julian Eymard on his gift of self: I must be to Jesus, what Jesus was to His Father—where we can recall Eymard as a child listening to the heart of Jesus at the tabernacle. Or where we can see once more ourselves talking to God in the exposed Blessed Sacrament as we commit again and again ourselves to the vows we promised to live by.

There is no nepotism here. Walang palakasan. But only pure change of heart by anyone who calls the name of Jesus. Like a child from Hospicio de San Jose, we need to believe with our whole heart and trust the saving power of Jesus. We must be certain with this, not lukewarm on this matter. The first reading reminds us the faithfulness of God by liberating the Jews from the tyrannical Egyptians. In our lives, God’s liberation happens when we are forgiven from our sins. Once we were forgiven and converted into a new person, it’s also our task as Children of God to be a blessing to others. We need to share the gift of God he has endowed to us; and it is our task to let Jesus be known to others.

How I wish like a child from Hospicio de San Jose, I could always claim that Jesus is my brother. That I could also say with innocence that like Jesus, “nagpapakabait din ako."