Christ’s disclosure in today’s Gospel is startling, ”My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.” The statement is especially startling when we consider the relationship between Jesus and his mother. Christ desires his followers to be in an intimate personal relationship with Him not unlike that of a loving family.
It is sad that many Christians inattentive to this call to intimacy identify the essence of their religion with the external performance of religious obligations. These obligations usually include attendance at prescribed weekly worship and observance of the Ten Commandments. Important as these practices are, they are not the heart of being a Christian. The heart of being a Christian is a personal relationship with Jesus. From this center all our religious practices are meaningful because they become expressions of our relationship with Jesus.
It is even sadder that many baptized Christians have abandoned the practice of Christianity because they assess their former practice as superficial and mechanical. Some even seem to imply that all practice of institutional Christianity is superficial. They may claim that they are now “spiritual but not religious.” Often this claim contains an implied criticism of those of us who are still faithful to our Christian commitments.
The problem for these people is simple: they haven’t fallen in love with Christ.
Father Pedro Arrupe, the revered Superior General of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1981, expresses the solution best: Fall in love!
Fall in love with Christ; it will change everything.
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