Who is My Mother?

Icons of Mary

Jesus and His Family

“He was still addressing the crowds when his mother and his brothers appeared outside to speak with him. Someone said to him, ‘Your mother and your brother are standing out there and they wish to speak to you.’ He said to the one who had told him, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then, extending his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘There are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me’.” Matthew 12:46-50

So much emphasis in our society seems to be placed on blood relations. Father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, aunt, uncle, cousin – it’s all in the family.

Sometimes, however, that can be a dangerous attitude.

For several years, I volunteered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in a program called Family Abuse Intervention Resources, or FAIR. Essentially, my role was to offer information about available resources to victims of domestic abuse or assault. In a way, I was encouraging individuals to break away from relatives (usually spouses) who were abusive toward them and, sometimes, their children.

When abuse or assault or negligence occurs, all bets are off as far as any family bonds are concerned.

There is a saying, “You can choose your friends but not your relatives”. Yet, even though we cannot choose our relatives, it doesn’t mean we must be bound to them for life, especially when those bonds are unhealthy or dangerous.

A few days ago, I heard a news report about Michelle Knight, one of the three girls held captive for over ten years by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio. While the other two young women, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, had been released from the hospital and moved in with their sister and mother, respectively, Michelle remained hospitalized due to more serious physical injuries. When she was finally released, she did not return to her mother’s home. In fact, according to reports, she had not even spoken with her mother since being freed from Castro’s ‘House of Horrors’.

The natural question is, “Why not?” and I’ve heard media personalities ask just that.

I don’t think that is any of our business. Now that Michelle is free, she can go wherever she wants and live with whomever she wants. She must have reasons why she does not wish to speak with or live with certain relatives and that is her prerogative. She doesn’t owe anyone else an explanation.

The same news report indicated Michelle was staying with people with whom she felt safe, loved, and would take good care of her.

If a reporter were to ask Michelle Knight why she is not staying with her mother, she might respond, “Who is my mother?”

Jesus answered that question as “whoever does the will of my heavenly Father”. He didn’t say anything about blood or genetics or DNA.

We all might have our own definition of ‘mother’ or ‘brother’. Often, non-blood relationships are safer, warmer, and more pleasant than the familial ones.

Sometimes, actions speak louder than blood.