“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.” Matthew 23:8
My cousin’s granddaughter was diagnosed with Leukemia the day after she turned two. Although my kids and I had never met Little Olivia, the story pulled at our heart strings, especially Jocelyn’s.
For the two years that Liv went through treatments, Jocelyn talked about her non-stop. She made her little crafts and gifts all the time. Although Jocelyn begged me, on a weekly basis, to go meet and visit Little Olivia, I knew Liv’s family had enough going on. They didn’t need us dropping in on their difficult and busy world.
So when the invitation came for Liv’s victory party last month, Jocelyn was over the moon! She told all her teachers she was going. She told them that although she had wanted to meet her cousin while she was going through her treatments, it was way better to meet her now that she had beaten cancer.
On the day of the party, Jocelyn was so excited! As we drove down to Massachusetts, she chattered on and on about FINALLY getting to meet Little Olivia. I don’t think she was prepared for what happened.
I should have known the party would be mobbed. My cousin is one of 11 kids. Her daughter is one of 64 grandchildren. Liv is one of 24 great-grandchildren. Throw in all the in-laws and friends, and the party was absolutely packed! To top things off, there was a banquet tent, caterer, bouncy house, pool, DJ, and cotton candy machine.
Rather than being like a kid in a candy shop with all the fun things to do and eat, Jocelyn grew quiet and shy. When we finally found Liv in the horde of people, Jocelyn barely said hello. I was able to at least get them side by side for a quick photo, but that was the extent of the interaction between the two of them.
Jocelyn continued to be quiet and not herself on the car ride home. Then, out of the blue, she asked, “Are Little Olivia and I REALLY related?” I told her yes, and explained the family tree that put them as either third cousins, or cousins three times removed (I can never remember how that works). She was thrilled with the answer, and reverted to her usual chatty, happy self.
I puzzled over it for days. How could she go from over-the-top excited to meet Liv, to standoffish when the time actually came? Was Liv like a celebrity to her, and Jocelyn had become starstruck and tongue-tied?
The next weekend, our deacon gave his farewell homily before moving to his next church. In it, he reminded us that three years ago, during his very first homily, he had told us all he loved us without even meeting us individually. He explained that we are all sons and daughters of God. Therefore, we are all related; and we’re called to love each other like family. Because of that, he loved us then, and he loved us now.
That was it: Jocelyn loved Little Olivia like a sister because they’re related. She didn’t need to know her to do so. When they did meet, and Jocelyn got overwhelmed, she didn’t know how to feel. But once she was reassured they were indeed related, she became resolute in her love for Liv again.
That’s what God calls us all to do: to love one another as brothers and sisters. He even sent His Son to remind us of this. Despite the meandering branches and offshoots of the world’s family tree, we can all be traced back to The Source, where we are all related.
Questions For Reflection:
* Do I believe we are all God’s children?
* If so, do I believe that makes everyone my brother or sister?
* Does that change how I interact with people?