Saturday, January 22, 2011

Out of His mind

Today's Gospel (Mark 3:20-21) is one of the shortest we have in the Lectionary's cycle of readings. And the focal point is that the relatives of Jesus thought He was out of His mind! What, exactly, are we to take away from this?
I began my meditation by considering what my reaction might have been, given the same circumstances. If one of my relatives had gone off and was attracting crowds, teaching about the Holy Books, curing the sick, forgiving sins, gaining the attention of the occupying forces - what would I think? What would I do? I think I would certainly be more than a little afraid, for him and for me, since the Romans (and indeed the Scribes, Pharisees, High Priests, etc.) were not known to look kindly on those who were "unusual". The roles one played in life were pretty well prescribed. Boys learned the trade of their father, girls married and moved with their  husbands. Rabbis (teachers) did not just pop-up on their own. They were selected and carefully trained.
Now, here comes Jesus, looking like a combination of rabbi, healer, baptizer, and political leader. As a relative who loved him, I think I might be inclined to try and portray him as a little crazy, perhaps the only way to hope to save him. At least if others thought he was crazy, they would not consider him a threat!
But we know he was real. We know that He was  following the will of the Father. And we are all the ones who should be grateful.
Now, let's think about today. What about those who might be called to do the will of the Father in such a radical way, perhaps as a priest or religious? what is the reaction of relatives and friends, even strangers? Many consider a young man or woman considering such a life to be more than a little crazy. Parents discourage rather than encourage these thoughts in many cases. And even before a child begins to think about their future life, how do we speak of those who have given their lives to the Church? Would the way we speak of priests and religious make it attractive or desirable to them?
We need to examine the way we talk about and relate to priests and religious. We need to let our young  people know that considering entering a seminary or novitiate is a way of discerning the will of the Father, and does not mean that they are out of their mind!

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