here is my fourth reflection for “There’s something about Mary” looking at the theme of family in the Gospels of Matthew and John. As the family of the church has recently experienced a change with the election of Pope Francis, understanding ourselves through family I believe takes on special significance–may the Pope and all of us embrace our identities by remembering that in the kindom family is more than blood.
In reflecting over the writings on Mary in the Gospels of Matthew and John, a theme that jumps out is familia (family). Both writers deal with the idea of family by expanding the notion of how one belongs to a family and family as a place where one encounters their identity and mission.
Matthew continues the theme of family based on faith seen in Luke and Mark’s Gospels through the narrative of Mary and Joseph’s yes to GOD’s yet to be fully defined plan. Joseph’s obedience to GOD’s will places him among the disciples based on the later description of family and discipleship given by Jesus—people belong to Jesus’ family based on their active faith to building the kindom. It is this unknown carpenter’s entrega to GOD’s will that creates the tie that will connect him to Jesus as a father, for it is not blood but faith that matters. Like Mary, Joseph committed himself to a silent, subtle prophetic life without any point of reference or a burning bush or a promise of descendents—just a dream that GOD was behind what was happening, period. Mary’s entrega is the forerunner that opens the door for Joseph to say yes; he follows her lead breaking the traditional role of the wife following the husband’s lead.
For Jews the family and community are central to the formation of one’s identity. Who one is as an individual stems from the community through the retelling of stories in cultic practice and in the home. Matthew’s genealogy is a reminder of the importance of knowing where one comes from and of connecting with one’s roots. As Latin@s it is important for us to understand who we are today by tracing back our family’s many apellidos (last names) to learn one’s family history and to embrace where we’ve come from (Delfin Waldemar Bautista Hernandez Rodriguez Varona Monterrosa). Though scholars use the genealogy to demonstrate how Jesus is connected to the patriarchs of the people if Israel reflecting him as the new Adam; the genealogy also serves Jesus on a personal level by reminding Him of His connection with the history of His people. He comes from the stalk of brave women like His mother who lived out their lives regardless of personal risk. These memories and stories of his Mother as well as others in the genealogy help in the development of His identity. It is not necessarily a bloodline as it is a line of faith that a mother uses to tell a story to her Son about the examples of entrega y valor of those who came before Him.
The Gospels also portray family as place where one lives out their mission. The wedding of Cana in John’s Gospel is a reminder to Jesus of his mission to serve others. Mary may not fully understand her Son’s divine role but knows that there is more to Him than just being the Son of a poor Jewish girl or of a carpenter (however, perhaps she does understand and we simply are not giving her enough credit). It is not a magic show that Mary is asking her Son to put on but a request for Him to help. It is her motherly nudging that helps him break out of his shell and begin His public ministry. Mary’s request in the account reminds us of Jesus’ divinity, while Jesus’ initial reluctance reminds us of His humanity.
Mission is also reflected in Mary and John being entrusted to each other at the Cross. John is entrusted with Mary’s care despite there being possible siblings that could have cared for her. Perhaps Jesus wanted her to be with someone who could understand her suffering (it is not noted anywhere in the Gospels that Jesus’ siblings were present at any point during the Passion). Mary’s motherly mission will not end due to Jesus’ death but will continue by being a mother of faith to John and Jesus’ other followers. Their mission to each other is revealed to them within the expanding notion of family that is united by faith and not by blood.
Though the purpose of the Gospels was to remember Jesus, they also revolutionize the idea of family as a way of being inclusive and as place of encounter with one’s mission and one’s identity. By remembering and re-membering His mother’s story, we better understand Jesus and ultimately better understand ourselves as a people of la lucha and en la lucha.
feature image from: http://lovealibrarian.blogspot.com/2010/03/jesus-and-mary-our-companions-in-our.html