In the Gospel reading today Jesus seems to ignore his family. His seeming inattention and statement, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” emphasize the primacy of the Kingdom of heaven over everything else.
Jesus was raised where family ties had great value.
Immediately after the annunciation, Mary hurries to the hill country to assist her cousin Elizabeth who was with child. After the finding in the temple of the twelve-year-old Jesus, he “went down with [his parents], returning to Nazareth, and he continued to be subject to them.”
In his public life he was known as the son of the carpenter Joseph from Nazareth. Jesus raised to life the young man at Naim and restored him to his widowed mother; similarly he raised from the dead the young daughter of Jairus at the request of her parents. Jesus treasured his friendship with the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus whom he raised from the dead.
And dying on the Cross, Jesus commends his mother to the care of the beloved disciple John.
But Jesus also clearly taught the primacy of God’s will and of his the Kingdom of heaven, over family and everything else.
As a young boy of twelve, when his anxious parents found him in the temple: “Son, why have you done this to us? You father and I were very worried while searching for you.” “Why were you looking for me? Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
At his call, Simon and his brother Andrew “at once left their nets and followed him;” “Immediately. Jesus called [James and John] and they followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men,”
To one wishing to follow him but had to bury his father first, “Let the dead bury the dead; as for you, leave them and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9: 59)
Discussing the cost of following Jesus, “Peter spoke up and said, ‘We have given up everything to follow you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers and sisters, or father and mother, or children, or lands for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. . . . a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mk 10: 29 – 30)