We all are God’s family

A widow once gave a hungry beggar boy a good meal and then arranged to adopt him. Grateful, the poor boy asked: “Are you God?” She smiled: “Well, you can say I’m a child of God.” The boy replied, “I guessed you’re related to God!” Indeed, we all are somehow related. So let’s reflect upon our “family circles”.
Most thinkers assert that family is the most basic unit in society. We develop a vibrant sense of family through interactions with mum and dad, sisters and brothers. We experience intimacy, security and happiness within this primal circle.
Biblical history strings together many family narratives: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany. These are ordinary people who love and hate, celebrate and suffer, age and die. They’re aware of being created by God, and, even in their sinfulness and squabbling, they believe — that God loves us, God protects us.
Biblical family narratives fructify into the “Covenant”, which signifies intimate love between God and people. God blesses generations of families, who, in turn, are expected to live according to God’s commandments of love, peace and service. Here too, people fail to live up to the ideals that God sets before them. Yet, God remains faithful and continues to love them.
Jesus grows up in a family with his mother, Mary, and foster-father Joseph. He later leaves his parental home and embarks upon a spiritual pilgrimage preaching God’s word. Transcending purely blood ties of kinship, Jesus says of his family: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:48-49). Jesus addresses the poor, the hungry, the sick and prisoners as “my sisters and brothers.”
Indian wisdom has that wonderful axiom: “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, meaning, “The world is one single family” (Mahopanishad VI. 71-73). This assertion is based on the realisation that all of creation has a single source and will ultimately find fulfilment in the Ultimate Reality, which we call by different names and worship in diverse forms.
In ever-widening circles, we all feel part of some family: biological-parental, social-religious, national-cosmic and so on. Each of these family circles comforts us with security, homeliness and happiness, but also brings difficulties; for, we are also responsible for the protection, love and care of all the others in these family-circles.
God’s spirit truly makes us God’s children and members of God’s family (Romans 8:12-16). Ultimately, God has made us blood-brothers/sisters since our blood groups do not discriminate between rich-poor, female-male, believer-atheist etc. How wonderful to echo the words of Tamil poet Kanian Poongundranar: “Yathum Oore Yavarum Kelir”, meaning, “Every place is my home; everyone, my kith and kin.”

Francis Gonsalves is the principal of the Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi. He can be contacted at fragons@gmail.com

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