Being part of a family we bear marks of relationship, be they positive or negative. Some of us may have gone through school in the footsteps of an older brother or sister. And how many times did the teachers compare us with our older sibling? If they did well at school we may be filled with a sense of pride and feel a responsibility to live up to a challenge. On the other hand, if our sibling left a trail of negative memories, then we may be thought of in much the same way. Likewise, being a son or daughter of parents who are respected can be much different than struggling with the burden of parents whose lives are not remembered in glowing terms.
As we listened to St. Matthew’s Gospel just now, Our Lord stood before us and with a sweeping gesture said, “Here are my mother and my brothers and my sisters.” As spiritual siblings of his, we are bound by a divine relationship. And that relationship bears a compelling responsibility to act as Our Lord did. In our community, and with those we come into contact through our life here, we are to treat each individual as Jesus would. Each Sister, each person we meet is to be regarded as another brother or sister of Our Lord.
We can’t choose the families into which we are born. But we do have a choice about accepting (or indeed rejecting) Our Lord’s invitation to be part of his family. Each of us have made a choice to be part of this community and our presence here today indicates that you and I have said ‘yes’ to him. And that choice will affect how we treat the people we come into contact with today.