One of the reasons that we are not as effective as we could be as Christians is because we turn to have domesticated the gospel, in the sense in that it does not shock us as it was intended to.
This passage is quiet shocking firstly there are insiders and outsiders, the Jerusalemites when they come to interrogate him they place themselves squarely as adversaries.
Mark gospel is constructed in way that the first part he is in Galilee and the second part he is in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where holy people lived, but he finds family in Galilee, he finds friends in Galilee, and he gets killed in Jerusalem. That’s a shocking reality.
In this text in particular he actually says that those who have faith are his relatives. Some people like to look at the text and say he is reducing Mary. No, he is saying Mary is more his relative because of the faith than because of the blood connection.
Blood is thinker than water but faith is thicker than blood. That’s why many of us are shattered by the news of Father Albert Denga’s death, we took the same oblate vows and took the same priestly vows. We did it in faith. Faith is thicker that blood.
In the saint of today, he was educated by Benedictines and when he decided to become a Dominican his family thought he was mad. They kidnapped him and put him prison for more than a year, but he prevailed and he became a Dominican. Faith is thicker than blood.
He brought many insights but we can think about that little later. If we look at our own life and what we have been through these last days, an intense experience of faith, often looking at things with different lenses and yet united, making decision in common. We do that in faith. Fiath is thicker that blood.
We went to the highlight, the launching of the pastoral plan. I like to think of it as God launching his pastoral plan for his people through us his servants. We went to Soweto and we met people we have never seen before and more than likely we will never see them again, yet they welcomed us they received the message that was given to them, they received the plan that God has in mind for them. They did it faith just as we proclaimed it in faith. Faith is thicker than blood.
One of the things that the Saint of today teaches us is that we need to investigate whatever we do. In the opening prayer of today St. Thomas is highlighted not because of his teaching of doctrine but because of his study of doctrine. He lived in time of great confusion.
Aristotle philology was held from universities in the west for more than a thousand years and then during the 15th century it was gradually released. It was looked at with great suspicion because it was released through the Muslims. Arabic philosophy was the bridge between Aristotle and subsequent philosophy, and when it was released it was looked it with great suspicion.
St Thomas said truth cannot contradict truth. And if you think that there is contradiction and there is a problem, study it, find the truth and then make the decision. Are we not being doing the same during this week? Are we not probing certain realities?, the Amazonian synod for example to find the truth, are we not looking at most of the things we looked at to find the truth, and then having found the truth what do we do? Do we domesticate it or do we follow it?
If we look at the life of St Thomas his vocation shows that you cannot domesticate the call of God. His family did everything in their power to stop this madness of this man who should have been a Benedictine now wanting to be a Dominican. No, you cannot and we cannot imprison or domesticate the vocation. It has to go where God leads it, and even if it means contradicting the feelings of the family and those who are close to us but we do it in faith, remembering all the time that faith is thicker than blood.
By Bishop Sylvester David OMI
Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town Archdiocese