Their young eyes open wide. They stop breathing as they listen closely. I want them to know about a rule of law that can easily put them in prison for a lifetime.

I explain this to every juvenile I represent, but that law can also hit your child or grandchild, no matter how well you’ve reared them. Here’s the “felony murder rule,” although it can vary state to state.

Let’s say your son is with a friend, who decides to play a prank on the old man working at Tom Thumb.

Your son hesitates. The friend laughs and explains, saying no one will get hurt. So your son drives there.

The friend goes inside, buys snacks, and pays for them. While the register is still open, he points to a dollar he’s previously dropped on the floor.

“Is that yours?” the kid asks.

As the oldster steps sideways and reaches down, the kid gently nudges him and the man falls to his knees. The kid then pockets a dollar from the register.

“Let me help you up,” the kid says.

“No, I tripped!” the embarrassed old man says.

Later, both boys are arrested for murder. The old man died on the floor, and such a death in the commission of a robbery is felony murder.

“Know who you’re with”— my mom said those words daily.

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark suggest that Jesus randomly chose His disciples, calling four fishermen as He walks along the sea. My Bible labels both sections: “Jesus Begins His Ministry.” (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14)

But that call to the fishermen occurs after John the Baptist has been arrested. The fourth Gospel tells us more. Jesus met Andrew and his brother, Peter, by the Jordan while John is baptizing there.

Immediately, they believe He’s the Messiah. Jesus then calls Philip, who lives in Bethsaida where the two brothers live, and Philip brings Nathaniel. James and John are fishing partners with Andrew and Peter. See how interrelated the first six are? Not random choices. (John 1-3)

And all 12 have commonality. After the Resurrection, when Jesus leads his disciples to a mount near Jerusalem and ascends to heaven, an angel appears. He says to the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” (Acts 1:11)

See anything unusual?

They’re in Judea. Jesus ministered throughout Judea, but he lived far north in Galilee. Read the angel’s words again. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?”

See it now?

All of the disciples are Galileans — Jesus surrounded himself with boys from the ‘hood.

We think John is the youngest of the 12, yet it’s only Peter, James, and John whom Jesus takes to sacred events. Why would Jesus trust the youngest?

It’s the first evidence that they’re cousins.

We know that Zebedee is John’s father (Matthew 4:21), and Salome is probably John’s mother. (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40)

John carefully protects her, never mentioning Salome by name in his Gospel. Not at the Crucifixion nor the Resurrection. But she was there. Mark says Salome went to the tomb early that morning with Mary Magdalene. (John 20:1, Mark 16:1) And both Matthew and Mark clearly state that John’s mom was at the Crucifixion.

John does name three of the four women at the Crucifixion but carefully substitutes a description for one woman, presumably his mother. And he calls her the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25)

That relationship would explain why Jesus leaves his mother to John’s care — so Jesus’ mother would be with her sister, Salome.

We also know that it’s John’s mother who knelt before Jesus, asking that her two boys sit on Jesus’ right and left hands. That sounds like a relative, boldly asking that Jesus choose His relatives to be His closest. (Matthew 20:20 ff)

We’ll never know all the reasons Jesus chose His disciples, but He had one friend who was bad news — Judas the thief, Judas who betrays Him.

Teach your children to choose friends wisely. Innocent people go to prison every day because of bad companions.

Surround yourself with devout Christians. Make your ‘hood those strong in the Lord.

Copyright © 2019 R.A. Mathews The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney and the author of “Reaching to God.” She may be reached at Letters@RAMathews.com.