In the first reading Paul proclaims that God does not want burnt offerings and sacrifices from us. This statement would have been shocking to many in Israel who based their faith on keeping the laws of sacrifices. In some ways such external sacrifices tended to take the people of Israel and us to a merely external and infantile practice of faith. Paul reiterates that God wants that will turned over to God. What God really wants is that union, surrender of our will and his – which we see in the person of Jesus.
Today’s Gospel event centers around living the will of God. Just as Paul’s statement in the first reading was shocking, this event in the Gospel must have been extremely shocking and even disturbing – but also a point of joy. Surrounded by disciples and folks listening to him, Jesus’ family cannot get in to speak to him. Right up to our current days, family forms a primal center for all of us. All other relations are defined and secondary to our family relationships. Yet when his family calls for him to get up and go outside to be with them, Jesus says he is already with his family, the family of faith, – that is whoever does the will of God. What a shocking reaction by Jesus. He seems to put his family off to one side. But he has his life well centered in his mission, preaching, and doing the will of the Father. This is also a great joy of us because we are no longer separated from God. Through Jesus we can become a member of God’s family. God loves us as sons and daughters through his love of Jesus. As Paul mentions, our relationship with God is no longer through an external set of laws, obligations, or sacrifices. As Christians our relationship with God is a personal, family relationship based on our internal will.
Behold, I come to do your will, O God
Image: https://claretwestng.org/tuesday-in-the-sixteenth-week-of-the-year-july-23-2019/; public domain.