Saturday, January 21, 2012

Such a Crowd

January 21, 2012

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

He went home again, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; they said, 'He is out of his mind.' Mark 3:20-21


Father, help me listen and understand your Word so that my attitudes and actions may follow the path you want me to walk.


Mark's Gospel continues to recount episodes of tension between Jesus and all those around him. Sometimes he challenges the rulers in the temple with his healing. Sometimes he challenges those who are healed to keep quiet. Sometimes he challenges the prevailing religious practices (like fasting).

Today, Jesus returns home. It is one thing for the crowds to press upon him on the side of a mountain when preaching and healing or to gather around him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Now, the crowds of the poor follow him home. This create a new tension -- tension within his family.

The family wanted to get things back to normal -- stay in their "comfort zone." Jesus' family tries to rationalize his behavior and cannot so they conclude that he must be out of his mind. Yet no one could ever truly take charge of Jesus -- not his parents when he went off preaching in the temple, not the Church leaders or the Roman authorities. It was Jesus taking charge and pushing all of them out of their comfort zone in order to help the poor and open their ears to the Word of God.


The Good News challenges all of us to question our attitudes and actions, what we say and what we do; and the actions and words of those around us. In this 24/7 news cycle (and on the day of the South Carolina primary), we should listen carefully to the words that are being broadcast at every turn.

A group of Catholic leaders from all facets of the church and universities signed an open letter to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum, asking them to refrain from racial stereotyping and other demeaning comments as they seek the presidency.

According to a posting on the website for Faith in Public Life, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa voters he doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

The open letter reminds the two presidential candidates that U.S. Catholic bishops have called racism an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. The letter reads, in part:

"Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

What attitudes does the Good News challenge in your life?

No comments: