The Common Good

We Are Family! (Get Up Everybody and Sing!)

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I think I was about nine or ten years old when I first heard the passage read. Or first really listened to it, anyway.

I sat in church, likely running the crease of the bulletin under my fingernails, trying to tap my sandals on the linoleum floor as noiselessly as possible, desperate to move. When I heard the pastor read from Matthew 12, however, verses that describe Jesus' response to being interrupted by his family, I sat up straight, my restlessness stilled.

Jesus was "speaking to the people" when someone -- a disciple, maybe -- alerted him that his mother and brothers were outside and wanted to speak with him. When I heard his reply, I couldn't decide which was worse: the words he spoke, or his prickly tone? He extends his arms and says, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"

I felt a little sick to my stomach. He sounded

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