I’ve always found this brief Gospel intriguing. We’re told that Jesus’ relatives want to seize him because they think he is out of his mind. In the passage before this one we hear of how popular Jesus is. People are coming from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea and many other places just to hear him. Jesus has also just appointed the twelve who are to join with him in accomplishing his mission. Now we find Jesus in a house so crowded with people wanting to be with him, to hear him preach, to experience his miracles, that it is impossible to get anyone in or out! And…his relatives think Jesus is out of his mind.
I can’t help but think that Jesus’ relatives have been hearing the murmur of constant and growing condemnation coming from the religious leaders. Already by this time in his ministry the religious leaders are very critical of everything Jesus has been saying and doing, especially when he calls them out for their hypocrisy in their attitudes and behavior, in the heavy burdens they pile up and place on the poor and outcasts. And then, Jesus performs those many healing and forgiving miracles, even on the Sabbath! There was surely a steady drumbeat of criticism and threat coming from the “important” people in Israel. Jesus refused to be intimidated but clearly the growing hostility frightened those who loved him. So, some of the family came to “seize” him so they could take him back home where he would be safe.
Every one of us has to make controversial and, perhaps, even risky decisions in our lives. Some of those choices may be about a career, a place to live, a spouse, whether to have children, whether to walk away from a relationship, to name just a few of the important choices in our lives. Sometimes the people in our lives, even the ones who love us, don’t agree with the choices we make. They may even think we’re out of our minds! It is surely a comfort to understand that even Jesus had people telling him that he was taking too much of a risk and that he should stop what he was doing. Jesus heard the message but knew that he had to continue to follow the Father’s Will for him. May God help us be faithful to His Will as we make important decisions in our lives.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.