Friday, January 22, 2016

Out of His Mind

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.  Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”  Mark 3:20-21

Tradition or Catholic Action by Peter Maurin
The central act of devotional life
in the Catholic Church
is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Sacrifice of the Mass
is the unbloody repetition
of the Sacrifice of the Cross.
On the Cross of Calvary
Christ gave His life to redeem the world.
The life of Christ was a life of sacrifice.
The life of a Christian must be
a life of sacrifice.
We cannot imitate the sacrifice of Christ
on Calvary
by trying to get all we can.
We can only imitate the sacrifice of Christ
on Calvary
by trying to give all we can.

In one of the most deliciously short yet cryptic daily Gospel readings in any liturgical cycle, what are we to make of today’s brief passage?

What does it say?  Just as we have heard of others who were close to Jesus turning on him recently, today, we see another group join the ranks of the anti-Jesus crowd.  First, it was the Pharisees.  Then, the disciples of John the Baptist questioned why Jesus and his followers did not fast.  Now his own relatives think Jesus is “out of his mind.” Where will it end? It seems Mark’s Gospel is marked more by documenting the non-followers and disbelievers rather than the followers and believers.

What does it mean?  Jesus does not have to go to a far-off land to work his mission.  “He came home.” He gets to work on his own home “turf.”  However, even among friends and relatives, people turn on him.  Ched Myers, writing in his book “Who Will Roll Away the Stone?” notes that things are not looking too good for this little rebel movement.  “Everywhere they have gone there has been conflict, and if it is not bad enough that Jesus has broken with his natural family, now he is under investigation by the authorities from the capital city.”

What does it matter?  Why should this movement have any more acceptance than any of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible?  Myers also points out that as soon as Isaiah had volunteered his services as Yahweh’s emissary than he was informed that his message would be rejected.  The point of the movement is to persist until we can get over people’s blindness and deafness.  Jesus knows his job – and ours – is to begin the outreach and to begin the healing.

In reality, Jesus is NOT out of his mind.  He is out of his family’s mind and totally committed to the mindset he shares with the Father.   

We hear a lot of talk today about “mainstream.”  What is mainstream to one person or group is rebellious to another.  Jesus was hardly mainstream. 

Mainstream is consumerism.  Christianity is a cultural contradiction calling on us to leave behind the stuff so our journey is not weighed down. Mainstream is best-seller lists, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, and the Billboard Top 100.  However, the small, niche label goes unnoticed until it is too late. Pope Francis call us out of the mainstream to be as counter-cultural as Jesus. Perhaps the family was right.  Jesus was operating outside of their definition of a sound mind.  Yet perhaps he was acting crazy…like a fox. How else could Christianity become the world’s largest religion?  "As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world's largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth," according to a recent Pew report.[i] 

Mainstream also is getting all we can.  Why else would the news be so
Artist Robert Preston
depicted the JP Morgan CEO
as the epitome of greed in
his seven deadly sins series.
dominated by the historic drop in the value of the stock market at the start of this year?  Not to pick on the CEO of JP Morgan, but his salary really speaks to the excess.  According to USA Today’s Kaja Whitehouse:

“Even as Wall Street braces for more cuts to jobs and bonuses, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was paid $27 million in 2015, up from $20 million the year before, the company said Thursday.

The pay raise comes after JPMorgan announced record annual profits last week, thanks to cost-cutting that helped to offset stagnating revenue growth.

In one year?!  27 million?!  Does he really need a 35 percent increase in pay from that base level?  What board or compensation committee can justify such lofty benefits?  Is he is the latest poster child for ‘Greed?’

Pope Francis calls for the opposite.  "I want a Church which is poor and for the poor." So wrote Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium).

January is Poverty Awareness Month. Get out of the mainstream and into the poor-stream. Learn, pray, and take action with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Sign up here to receive a daily email from CRS with facts, tips, and ways you can take action from the Poverty Awareness Month Calendar to end poverty in your community!

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