Daily Reflection
January 21st, 2006

Tom Bannantine, S.J.

School of Nursing
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Memorial of St. Agnes
2 Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27
Psalm 80:2-3, 5-7
Mark 3:20-21

Today’s scripture readings speak to me of the relationships that we human beings form with one another. There are two kinds of relationships between people. One is a relationship by blood, when we are members of a family. The people of whom we hear in the gospel reading were apparently blood relatives of Jesus. The other kind of relationship between people is that forged by love and affection. While there is no relationship by blood, there is a strong bond of friendship and mutual esteem usually formed over a long period of time. Such was the relationship between David and Jonathan mentioned in today’s first scripture reading. The words of David as he mourns the death of Jonathan deserve our attention. “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother! Most dear have you been to me; more precious have I held love for you than love for women.” These words of David convey strong emotion and make clear that he regarded Jonathan as his brother because of the love and affection they had for each other.

Both of these kinds of relationships are still present among us today. But their importance may be different now. In our modern world great distances sometimes separate us from blood relatives and even siblings. When that is the case, it is possible for us to feel a closer relationship to close friends that we work with and see every day.

David was a man capable of great virtue and great love, but he also had great faults. On the occasion of the death of Saul and Jonathan he demonstrated the great love that he was capable of.

Jesus demonstrated the greatest love the world has ever known, but on this occasion he shows us that in doing his work here on earth he had priorities. And his highest priority was the will of God the Father and not the love of family and relatives. From the beginning of his life here on earth Jesus adhered completely to the plan of God the Father for the salvation of the world. If conflict arose occasionally with relatives, that was not a problem for Jesus. On this occasion the problem arose because his relatives and friends knew Jesus so well. They had lived with him for a long time and felt that they knew him very well. During his years of living in Nazareth nothing about Jesus suggested anything unusual. But when the time came for Jesus to begin his public life here on earth, he acted very differently than he had previously. He began to preach and teach and work miracles. He left Nazareth and began to travel incessantly to reach as many people as possible. Such an abrupt break with his past was interpreted by some of his friends and relatives as madness. Some of them even thought he was influenced by the devil. They were more concerned with his actions than with his words.

For me the lesson to be learned here is to heed the words of God on the occasion of the baptism of Jesus which feast we recently celebrated. On that occasion God the Father said: “This is my beloved son, listen to him” In the gospel today, the relatives of Jesus did not heed this message. They did not listen carefully to the words of Jesus. The most important relationship all of us have is not that with our relatives and friends. Our most important relationship is with God. And so it is very important that we listen to Jesus and his message for us.

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