Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”
Several years before she died my mother took up daily reading of the Bible, three chapters each day. I happened to be at home while she was reading Saint Paul's letters. Although she had little more than the footnotes of her Saint Joseph edition to inform her reading of these ancient texts, she enjoyed this affectionate, opinionated, fiercely loyal, irascible, utterly fearless saint.
If Saint Paul liked you, you had a friend for life. If he didn't, you'd best avoid his company. Fortunately he liked a lot of people and was loved by many more, including those who pick up his letters many centuries later.
Saint Paul knew the Body of Christ as his friends, disciples and fellow travellers. It was never a "mystical body" to him, but a very real, sweaty, short-sighted, enthusiastic, courageous group of people. They were men and women, old and young. He knew individuals and their families, as he demonstrates in his second letter to Timothy, referring to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice.
Speaking of his disciples, Saint Francis would share Paul's vision of church when he said, "The Lord gave me brothers." In Kentucky we might say, "you fellows" or in New Jersey, "youse guys." The Church is -- quite simply -- people.
When I want to know what is God like I look at the community I live with. If I want to show God my love I go the extra mile for someone near to me.
We begin each Mass with, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
If we happen to open our eyes and see the communion at that moment, we will know what Saint Paul knew, and what Jesus was talking about when he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”