31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark has already posed the question earlier in the chapter about family, and loyalty: They (his family) went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”
And now Jesus responds to the question by talking about a new kind of community that is not based on blood ties, but on a commitment to do the will of God. In conversation with those from the Muslim world, and from Burma, I have been reminded of precisely this issue. Those who have decided to follow Jesus in some countries take a huge risk. They may be shunned by their family. They may be discriminated against in the job market, they may be imprisoned, even lose their life.
Even in the USA where Christianity is the major religion, to be be a disciple of Jesus can be difficult. Working in the area of peacebuilding may test relationships with Christians who have supported the US government’s foreign policies of intervention. One of my new friends grew up in a church that was very nationalistic, and it has been hard for him as his views on violence and war have increasingly distanced him from his home congregation of which his father is the pastor.
Being a part of the ‘New Community’ that Jesus offers us will take us in directions that will not only enrich our lives, but challenge them severely. May we know God’s grace as we continue the journey.