When we think of family values it is customary to imagine Daddy, Mommy, Big Brother and Little Sister. That is the picture of a family especially in the late 1940’s and 50’s. They were all white too. The idea that families could come in different colors and with a variety of members wasn’t considered good for advertising. So this picture of the idealized family became for some the picture of the family that Jesus proposed for all of us. Our culture determined for us Jesus’ family values.
But we know that the nuclear family was not what Jesus had in mind. He was talking about the human family. He was referring to people that we might not include in our families – the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison. He said that when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison we are visiting him and his family. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40).
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Church, wrote in one of his books what his father said to him before he entered college. “Remember to treat every girl the way you want somebody else to treat your sister.” Curry remembers that a part of him was thinking, “You just ruined four years of college,” but his father was right. Curry’s father was saying something pretty significant: “Relate to every girl and woman as if they were your sister, because they are. Relate to every boy and man like you would your brother, because they are. The love you have for your own flesh and blood is the love you are to have for every man, woman, and child because we are all children of the one God and Father who created us all. That is what is behind the incredible claims Jesus and the New Testament make about love.” (“Songs My Grandma Sang)
“Love your enemies.” They are your family. “Love one another.” They are your family. “God came among us in the person of Jesus to show us the way to be right and reconciled with the God who created us all, and the way to be right and reconciled with each other as God’s children.” (M. Curry)