In our gospel lesson this Sunday, we hear another instance of God’s people not listening or understanding. The scribes who came down from Jerusalem to witness Jesus’ work believed that he was possessed by the ruler of the demons. Jesus’ own family believed that he was out of his mind. Upon hearing these judgments, Jesus looked around him and said that his family was comprised of “whoever does the will of God.” Those who stood “outside” God’s will, whether those in authority or his own family, were not part of Jesus’ community, or “tribe.”
These may seem like hard teachings—about listening to and following through with views with which we disagree, and about choosing the community of Christ’s followers above the claims of kin. But these two teachings point us toward Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the church in Corinth: through challenge to our “outer nature,” our sense of the order of things, our “inner nature” is being “renewed day by day.”
Through loss and openness to change we move from the temporary life we can see right now toward the eternal life from God that is ours to claim. In order to participate in the transformation that leads to eternal life, we must learn to listen, to accept God’s teaching and will, and to find our renewal in embracing what we do not yet see.