TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
We tend to be fearful of the things we don’t understand. We want things to be “normal,” and to move along in a way that we determine to be orderly. When things seem to be getting out of control, we try to nudge them back into place. A more extreme reaction to what we don’t understand is to demonize the situation, accusing an offending party of being in collaboration with the devil. We see the effects of the original sin of Genesis in the reactions to Jesus described in Mark’s gospel for this Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Mark describes what must have been a rather ordinary situation. Jesus came home with his disciples, his friends, after sharing his message with all those who would listen. Jesus was making a name for himself as someone who was not your ordinary peripatetic preacher, and he tended to gather a curious crowd wherever he would go, people who just wanted to see and hear this man for themselves.
In today’s gospel that crowd is a mixture of relatives and religious leaders, and their reactions to Jesus are predictably human. Jesus’ relatives didn’t understand Jesus, they thought he was “out of his mind.” Perhaps they were present to coax Jesus back to something that would approximate normalcy. They might have wanted Jesus to return home, make a few chairs, use those skills he learned as a carpenter, and stop drawing so much attention to himself.
The religious leaders are harsher in their criticism of Jesus. They no doubt also thought Jesus to be “out of his mind,” and they felt the things Jesus said and did had to be because he was possessed by an evil spirit.
How frustrating it must have been for Jesus, to be surrounded by people whose hearts were closed to the promptings of the Spirit. Their preconceived notion of how God would behave in their midst kept them from recognizing the freshness of all that Jesus had to say. While Jesus’ message could at times prick the collective conscience of his listeners, it was really the same message revealed in the Torah and proclaimed by the prophets of old. Jesus was the final and complete chapter in a love story begun in Eden and told by his disciples down through the ages. It is the story of a God who so loved His people that He sent His only Son into the world that they might have life, and joy, and peace, and might find their way back to the Father who created them.
Mark’s gospel joyfully proclaims that those who do the will of God are blessedly part of a genuine family. The ties that truly matter are not those made of blood. It is our faith in God’s Son, and our willingness to do His will, which connects us with God and with His people. Let us be grateful for being called to be a part of God’s family. Let us open wide our hearts that God’s Spirit might find a home there. May that Spirit guide us to avoid all that would separate us from God, and may it give us the wisdom to see even in those things we don’t fully understand the hand of a loving God, still revealing to us just who He is.