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When I was little we used to go visit grandma and grandpa on the farm. This was where my mom’s family originated. Her father’s side of the family were known as the “Fraser” clan. Her mom’s side of the family had the surname “Hodel.” As a small boy, I never knew or understood that these people were in any way different, or indeed, that some of them may not like the others. To me they were all “Uncle” or “Auntie.” As I got older, I began to pick up on the nuances of what it meant to be attached to one side of the family or the other. And so began my life of alter-egos…
When I was visiting the local gas station, the owner of which I knew to be good friends with my Uncle Ernie, grandma’s brother, I found it to be prudent to be a “Hodel” in those moments. Bill, the proprietor asked me once, “which family do you belong to?” After telling him that Ernie was my uncle, he would introduce me as a “Hodel boy.” I was immediately accepted. I felt the difference because I once saw my younger brother who had introduced himself as Frank Fraser’s grandson, dismissed and ignored by the men in the gas station.
But when my brother and I were at the small grocery store there, the reverse was true. They liked the Frasers; but the very germanic “Hodels,” not so much. There my brother was treated like he belonged (“Frank’s grandson, you know…”) and I was the outsider. Who you are and who you belong to matters!
This weekend we discuss the Baptism of Our Lord and God’s declaration that Jesus is His Son, the Beloved, with whom he is well pleased.