Today we honour the memory of Saint Francis de Sales: a Swiss bishop who tried to re-establish the Catholic faith in Geneva which had apostatised to Protestantism. He was an avid letter writer and these reveal him as a man who was very much in touch with the real world. He taught against being pretentious and advised people to pray, work and serve God in whatever situation they found themselves. Today we thank God for the life of Saint Francis de Sales who is a great patron for ordinary people who seek to deepen their spiritual life.
Today’s gospel suggests that it was difficult for Our Lord’s family to understand his behaviour. Our Lord was almost constantly surrounded by crowds, getting into trouble with the Jewish authorities, and working and praying long into the night. As he returned from the mountain with his newly-appointed apostles, he approached his house only to find yet another crowd assembled and waiting for him. Moved with compassion, he gave them his time and attention.
Our Lord’s family became concerned that he might not be using sound judgment. Perhaps they were afraid that Our Lord wasn’t living a healthy, balanced life, but Jesus was concerned first and foremost with the kingdom of God. He wanted nothing more than to care for everyone who came to him, so much so that he willingly risked the understanding of his family.
Just as Our Lord wasn’t put off by the crowds who gathered outside his house, he is not put off when we come to him with our weaknesses, no matter how often we come to him. He doesn’t reject us, but rather embraces our weaknesses. He took on our flesh and blood so that he could heal us. His true family are all those who come to him with faith, believing that he has come from the Father to save us from sin and darkness.
As we approach the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the hope of unity with other Christians is dim, no more than a distant dream. And yet we must keep praying. Still we must believe that we will find the answers to our divisions when we look deep into Christ’s heart and ask him to free us from the attitudes and opinions that keep us separated. Only by coming to Jesus as the crowds did can we grow in our understanding of his intentions and be led into deeper unity.