Mark 3:35, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” This is a powerful statement for us to contemplate in our lives. Jesus is offering us an immeasurably gracious invitation here. For those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our redeemer and our king, this is no metaphor, no casual use of language. This is Jesus telling us that if we come to know and to do the will of the Father, just as he did, then we are nothing less than his brother, sister, or mother.
While this is our dearest dream, to be able to be called a brother, or sister of Jesus, we know only too well how difficult it is to be that. In order to be his brother/sister, we must submit first, willingly, yes, even joyfully to the will of God. This requires the well established virtue of humility in us. We all know how hard it is to submit our will to that of another. Rebellion is in us from the beginning. Have you not been around three and four year olds and seen willful defiance come out of them in a petulant “No” when they were told to do something? And yet, have you not also seen that sturdy little will melt under the determined and steady love of a parent? It is one thing to learn to bend one’s will to parental authority, or any other earthly authority, but it is another thing altogether to learn to submit one’s rebellious will to the will of God.
To submit to God and to do his will is something that requires both a recognition of God’s greater wisdom and a humility that can only come to us through grace. Doing the will of God is a matter of a mature faith. It is a matter of coming to know God and his will for us. It is a matter of experience in the faith. It is a recognition that we are his children, that his love for us is unconditional and infinitely faithful. It is a matter of continual practice, through constant prayer, and through our own growing love for him. As a teacher, I was aware that students would try their best for you if they knew they were loved, respected and honored. Well, this is how God deals with us. His love for us is evident in his total self-sacrifice on the cross. But it is also evident in the small and the great graces he gives to each one of us personally every day.
To be Jesus’ brother/sister implies a relationship. It is in relationship that we come to know humility, both with our friends and loved ones, but most especially with Jesus. Are we doing what is necessary to be in relationship with him? Are we reading and meditating on the scriptures in order to come to know God and his will better? Are we applying what we learn about God and his love for us in our daily lives? Are we doing the hard work of soul-searching to see what willful, sinful habits might remain in us preventing us from seeing and then willingly choosing to do God’s will. Are we asking him for forgiveness when we have sinned against ourselves, our neighbors, and ultimately him? This is the hard work of building that relationship with Jesus. But when we humbly and willingly set out to do this work, he is there, like a loving brother, supporting us with his grace and teaching us his wisdom all the way. And he will ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS be faithful to us. Thanks be to God!
Lord, it is our deepest prayer to come to know you intimately. Help us with your grace to take up the hard work that is necessary in order for us to come to know and to do the will of the Father. We know that we are weak, but also that, with your love and your aid, we can develop the courage and the strength to do this willingly and happily. Jesus, it is in your name that we offer these prayers. Amen!
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