This past Sunday, I worshiped with an intentional Eucharistic community in the DC area, known as Communitas. Those present customarily share their reflections on the Scriptures after the celebrant offers his reflections.
Sunday was, of course, the celebration of the Holy Family, and the celebrant raised up the Scripture passage about a follower of Jesus leaving family to follow him, even though that was not the gospel passage for the day.
I realized that I had never really warmed up to that passage. It juxtaposes values that are most often not in major conflict. Most of us work out the meaning of our faith in the context of family, not in opposition to it.
But my interfaith work has made me realize recently that there are times when people feel compelled to make difficult choices between faith and family. The best examples at the moment come from the Muslim world. First, when five young men were missing from the U.S. (having gone to Pakistan), their families were the ones who reported them to the Council on American Islamic Relations, which in turn reported them to the FBI. And most recently, the father of the man who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner coming from Amsterdam to Detroit reported his son’s growing and worrisome “radicalization” to the U.S. government.
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I have no idea if a sense of religious faith motivated any of the families involved, but I suspect it did. And in both cases, such reporting surely cost them, raising questions about them in the larger community. Interesting thoughts as we ponder the Holy Family this week.