During that last retreat season at St. Paul’s in Detroit, I had a talk about the sufferings of Jesus, some of which we don’t usually think about. Part of may talk was about how Jesus was often misunderstood, even by the ones closest to Him, and I used the passage from Mark which is our Gospel reading for today as an example of how He was misunderstood even by His family.
Mark tells us that when Jesus came home, a large crowd gathered, making it impossible for Jesus and His disciples to eat. Somehow, His family hears about it and decides “to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” So, Jesus’ family reaction to the news of great crowds coming to see Him is take Him home because He is obviously crazy.
Being misunderstood by even the ones closest to us is something most of us, I think, have experienced at one time or another. This Gospel passage challenges us to continue to strive to understand each other, out of love. Note the times in the Gospels when Jesus asks what He can do for this person or that when it seems obvious to us what should be done. Even though He may know what the person wants, Jesus gives them an opportunity to be heard.
Often it seems that in our society we have difficulty taking the time to understand each other, especially those who come from a different background or experience. But if we are to truly come together, we have to try to understand each other, as inefficient a process as that may be. We may even find how much we have in common! May understanding bring forth acceptance, and may acceptance bring forth love, and may love help bring forth the kingdom!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.