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'Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?'

A Christian Science perspective.

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Considering the changing complexion of the family, a great number of people might reasonably ask these two questions (see Monitor, "How the recession is reshaping the American family," June 14). Financial needs increasingly require individuals to shift roles and be more involved in household tasks, and, in some cases, extended families must live together. In short, there's a rethinking of the role of families and what it means to "be family."

While the questions might reflect current views, they were actually posed by Christ Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago. His example helped introduce a broader perspective on family.

Once, while he was addressing a large group of people, Jesus learned that his mother and brothers waited outside to speak to him. When told about it, he "pointed to his disciples and said, 'These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!' " (see Matt. 12:46–50, New Living Translation).

His comments surely meant no disrespect, but they illustrated that his expansive view of family went beyond the limits of flesh and blood. This derived from perceiving God as his real Parent and led him to understand the spiritual nature of kinship that's based on one's relation to God and His children.

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