March 8, 2020: Second Sunday of Lent - Associate Pastor’s Corner
Who are your kinsfolk? Do you have kinsfolk? The Lord commands Abram to “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Kinsfolk are more than what we tend to think of as family: parents, children and grandparents. Your kinsfolk include not only your immediate family, but also your extended family, their households, and all those who depend upon and fight for your tribe/clan/support group. So for God to ask Abraham to leave the land of his kinsfolk and his father’s house is a big deal. God is asking Abraham to leave all of those upon whom he depends, to go to an unfamiliar foreign land full of strangers, and to do this all on a promise.
Many of us are like Abraham, living apart from our kinsfolk. No longer is the extended family the basic unit of society; each individual is expected to stand on their own, maybe with the help of the State. Perhaps we have never experienced the community of kith and kin. Perhaps at one point we had kinsfolk, had a tight knit community, but then time or geography or tragedy separated you, bringing isolation and loneliness. It is not good for man to be alone! And so God makes a promise to Abram:
“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”
God promises to create a special nation, a people peculiarly his own to be a blessing to the whole world, so that no one would be alone.
Today, that specially called out People of God, is the ἐκκλησία, the ecclesia, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, i.e. you! And so when Saints Peter, Paul, James, and John refer in their letters to the Christian community, they use the Greek word for expressing kinship: ἀδελφοί, which literally means “from the womb” and is translated as “brethren” or “brothers.”
We are brethren in Christ, we are kinsfolk, an extended family, a tribe/clan/support group. Jesus has made himself our brother by taking on our flesh and blood, by giving his own Mother to be our Mother too.
So then let us be kinsfolk in Christ! Reach out and build bonds of kinship with those around you. Don’t be alone among millions, be a neighbor, be a friend. Like Abraham, God has blessed you so that you can be God’s blessing to others.
~ Fr. Christopher