Many people have a “family of choice” as well as a “family of origin.” That is, friends with whom we are close, to whom we turn and on whom we rely, who function as family and who are sometimes as close or closer than our family of origin. Jesus does this, too. He expands family beyond biological ties as he calls his followers into new relationships (Mark 3:33-35).
Here, in John 19, Jesus invites two people into a new relationship of care. There is an Irish saying, "It is in the shelter of one another that we live.” Jesus invites his mother Mary and his friend John to shelter one another’s lives. A family of choice. Even on the cross Jesus is making family.
In the first few centuries of Christianity, early Christians used the language of family to describe themselves – brothers and sisters in Christ, mother or father in the faith, the household (oikos) of God. In fact, the larger Roman culture persecuted Christians for creating these new “families of choice.” This was seen as a threat to the traditional Roman family household.
I wonder if I, too, can respond to Jesus’ invitation and see all the possible families of choice in my life. This doesn’t mean I abandon my family of origin, people whom I cherish. However, Jesus – even from the cross! -- does invite me to expand my definition of family and the ways I shelter others’ lives and allow them to shelter mine.
Where do you see family in your life today?