Luke 8: 19-21
With a quick read it might appear that Jesus is rejecting his own family in today’s gospel, but he is highlighting that a deep relationship with God is the most essential thing to be his follower. The gospel of Luke has a special emphasis on Mary as the first disciple, the one who hears God’s word embraces it. She is the model of faith that we seek to emulate. Jesus’ brothers are with her. Scholars differ in whether the brothers in the text blood brothers are; half-brothers, based on the tradition that Joseph was a widower when he married Mary; or cousins, part of the social unit of extended family, common at the time. Regardless, in Luke’s gospel Jesus is inviting others into his family, those who hear God’s word and do what God inspires them to do.
Hearing is generally perceived as a passive act. We can’t help but to hear some things and we will hear accusations of someone hearing but not listening when they don’t seem to be actively engaged in the process of interpretation or follow through with what might have been asked of them. But the ‘hearing’ in this text has a connection to obedience because of the qualifier that Jesus puts with it. We need to hear the word and act. It is not the obedience of following rules but having the discipline to absorb what is being said and incorporating it into your daily practice until it becomes who you are- a disciple.
Alison Gore is a parishioner at St Paul of the Cross, Glen Osmond. She works in education and formation.