A Palestinian family saga
Posted on 04 June 2010, 12:57
Winding up my current family theme, I am presently in conversation with Jesus of Nazareth, who like all of us, had his own story to tell.
He was part of a large family. Apart from his mother Mary, and father Joseph - who appears to have disappeared from the scene - he had four brothers and several sisters. It is well known, however, that they were not supportive of his chosen path; indeed, they thought him mad. This culminated in the scene that shocked many, and is not much talked of: the scene when he disowned his family.
It happened like this: he is talking to a crowd, when he is told that his mother and brothers are there to see him; and he knows why. And so he turns to the group, and says ‘Who is my mother?’ ‘Who are my brothers?’ My mother and brothers are those who do the will of God.’ To disown your clan in the patriarchal Jewish society was a startling thing to do, and something of a slap in the face for the 5th commandment, which demands that you honour your parents. But then Jesus tore the fabric of much accepted practice.
Ultimately, however, this is a story of reconcilaition. For when he is dying on the cross, Jesus looks down and sees four friends below. One of them is Mary Magdalene, and Mary his mother and the disciple John are two of the others. It’s in this unlikely setting that he creates a new family. ‘He is your son’ he says to Mary. And then to John, he says, ‘She is your mother.’ And we are told that from that time on, John took her to live in his home.
Family life is a precarious and unpredeictable affair. Nothing is a foregone conclusion; and nothing is the end of the story.