Let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith (Gal. 6:10)
According to St. Vincent de Paul, it is not enough to love God, if my neighbor does not love him. This conviction derives from the teaching that the whole law and the prophets depend on love of God and neighbor. The saint also quotes Rom. 13:8: “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
In my opinion, St. Vincent might as well say that to love God and see to it that our neighbor loves him is to imitate Jesus. It is not enough for him to be the Son of God, if we human beings are not adopted children.
The mission of the Son of God is to get God to adopt us as his children. Born of a woman, the Son of God is God-Man and, hence, the only mediator that can guarantee our being adopted and being empowered to address God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as our Father in an intimate and tender manner.
And the one born under the law, and its perfect fulfillment, reveals to us what membership in his family basically means: to hear the word of God and act on it. Jesus pronounces Mary blessed more for her attentiveness and her observance, along with St. Joseph.
The shepherds, attentive also to the good news brought by an angel of the Lord and acting on it, get to put themselves within the intimate sphere of the Holy Family. There, they are not excluded, even if mangy perhaps, bathless, smelling bad, ritually unclean. Rather, they are allowed to evangelize, so that their hearers are left amazed, recollected, meditative and singing with gratitude.
Blessed, then, are such poor folks, for theirs too is Jesus’ house. They feel at home there, in the company of other believers making up with them the family of God. They know as well that in it, like in a pilgrim caravan, they can rely on the big ones not to let the little ones remain unattended.
Those assembled by Jesus under God’s parenthood are people of all kinds: tax collectors and Zealots, sinners and saints, those with much, little or nothing. But they all exert effort to be respectful of one another, to honor one another, to wait for one another, to forgive one another.
No one among them is scorned for his youth (1 Tim. 4:12). The official teachers are not afraid of dialogue and let themselves be astounded even by young people who listen and question as they advance in wisdom, age and grace. One learns also to live without understanding everything.
In this family, the strong protect the weak and make sure that no man abuses a woman. She is counted on also with regard to decisions and ministries.
In the family of the faith, one is distinguished not so much by the luxurious or the special dress one wears as by one’s heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, understanding, patience. The presiders, imitating the Master, wash the feet of those they preside over. The first ones gird themselves, have the last ones recline at table and wait on them.
But it is equally not enough for both groups to invoke the most holy name of Jesus and receive blessings, if their neighbors do not invoke it and do not receive them.