And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. -Mark 3:31-34
So what is Jesus’ problem here? Someone tells him his family is outside and he has to make a big deal about it. Jesus is the greatest teacher and he never misses an opportunity to use his situation to make a point. But there is more going on, he is drawing a stark contrast between the faithful followers and his family. A few verses earlier Mark says that his family wanted to “seize him”. This sounds like the Pharisees who countless times wanted to seize him, or stone him, or push him off a cliff. His family was in the wrong and they were acting on their convictions, they had to be addressed.
Jesus points out that his real family were the people who obeyed God, his father. Now we tend to spiritualize these sorts of things, as if Jesus is just pointing out some reality that will exist in heaven but for now we are stuck with our biological family. Ok Jesus I have a theoretical mystical family that I will get to hang out with in heaven. But that’s not true on two levels. First you prove yourself to be in the family by your actual obedience here on this earth. Second, as we know from countless other places one of the commands we as the Church are called to obey is the call of unity. We are to act like a real family here on this earth. If your family comes to seize you, you should treat them as outsiders in a real way, you should shun them and stay in fellowship with your real family, the faithful, the Church.
I suppose we could use this as a reason to bash the Catholics for their overzealous veneration of Mary, but that’s really not the problem we are likely to fall into. The more likely problem, addressed by this verse is the worship of family. Now there are also some cults that outright worship the family, such as the Mormons. But we do the same thing in many more subtle ways. Family time is seen as more important than Church time, we might not say it but we act like it. We have no problem tiring ourselves out on Saturday doing various family activities and then sleeping in and skipping Church on Sunday. Holidays are more and more a time of family traditions and not a time of Church traditions. Many families don’t see the need to go to Church at all they simply have a service at home with the family. Well this is all very American but it is not very Christian. Jesus is clear the fellowship of the Church comes before family. He blew off his family and fellowshipped with the Church. His actions mirrored what he said.
It really is a silly thing to worship the family, “what do you have that you nave not been given?” Your family is just the people God chose to connect you to biologically. The family is a blessing bestowed upon us by God, but if we worship the created thing rather than the creator where are we? We are turned over to our lusts as the fools in Romans 1. The Church really is an incredible thing. Ephesians 1:21-23 tells us that every rule and authority has been put under Christ who is the head of the Church. And we are his body here on earth now. Of course we do not perfectly obey the will of the father. We don’t always meet the test Jesus gave for being included in his real family the Church, but we have been baptized into Christ. He was completely obedient, and so we share in his blessing, in him we live and move and have our being. We are his body animated by the Holy Spirit.
On another note. Mary the mother of Jesus was no longer a virgin after she gave birth to Jesus from what I can tell. According to Deuteronomy 22:15, virginity was proved by a blood stained cloth. I’m pretty sure Mary couldn’t produce this after giving birth. The beginning of marriage starts with blood like all good covenants. Jesus opened her womb with blood. Truly they were blessed. When promised by God that they would be given a miraculous child, they didn’t doubt as Sarah had done, they didn’t question as Zacharias, the were faithful in the tradition of Hannah. They brought forth a special prophet, even better than Samuel, a king better than David. Jesus the Christ.