His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mk 3:31-35.
I think that part of the meaning of this passage is often missed. What is missed, I believe, is that this passage is profoundly marian in character. Some miss this meaning so far that this passage to them is actually seen as an indication that Mary the Mother of Jesus did not do the will of God, that she was a sinner. St. Luke, however, makes it abundantly clear that this is not true.
In this passage, Our Lord, upon discovering that his family is calling for him, uses these circumstances as an opportunity to teach his followers who they are and can further become–insofar as they do the will of God. It is here that the passage is found to be related to Mary.
“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
We know that through our faith in Christ we become sons and daughters of God, together with The Son of God. As we are conformed to the Son who is such by nature, we become such–we are adopted. And as adopted children of the Father, we are the brothers and sisters of Jesus. What is not so well known is that through our faith in Christ we become, in a sense, his mother. This is what our Lord seems to allude to here. In a sense, then, we become conformed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We become chosen, as she uniquely was, to bear and give birth to Jesus Christ in the world.
How are we to respond to this knowledge? First of all we are to praise God because of the glory he has seen fit make known through us, because he has given us a portion of, in a sense, the same gift, the same honor, that he has given to the Most Holy Mary of Nazareth. Secondly, we are to ask the Lord (persistently) for the grace of growing in this identity of divine “motherhood.” Thirdly, we should strive to be like Mary, making our lives pure obediance to God. We should say together with her, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” We should take delight in, and take every opportunity to, “ponder”(Luke 2:19 and again throughout the Gospel) in our hearts the mysteries of Our Lord’s life, especially, though not exclusively, through the Rosary.
All this can be summed up in doing God’s will, as the passage in Mark puts it. How do we do this, even more concretely than explained above?
We do this by doing the same works that we must do to become sons and daughters of God, the first of which is given to us by Christ in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” Flowing from this are the works of the commandments and all precepts which are contained within them, the commandments of God which are truly fulfilled when they are done out of love for God and neighbor. Do not lie, do not steal nor desire the possesions of others. Do not commit fornication or adultery, do not lust in your heart, nor murder, nor hate another human being. Honor and obey you mother and father, and obey all rightful authority. Love your enemies and pray for them. Observe the day of rest and worship that God has established for our good. Fear the Lord and above all obey him in all things. Persevere in prayer, and seek the Kingdom before all earthly things.
We already know these commands, but it is always helpful to bring them to mind again (and again). It is helpful to be reminded that it is promised that if we do these things, our light will shine out in the darkness–and in a true sense, we will give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ in the world, whereby his dominion over it will be completed until he comes again in glory to establish his kingdom where God will reign with mercy and justice forever.