In the current motion picture, Selma, depicting the civil rights advocacy of the 1960’s in this country, there is a haunting refrain on the lips of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is almost like the motif of a powerful symphony of Mahler or Beethoven, and it remains with the listener for a time. Dr. King thunders, "What happens when a man stands up and says, ‘Enough is enough’?"
Perhaps you have noticed, in these early chapters of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ ministry is also saturated with conflict. He is accused of healing by the power of Beelzebub, the Pharisees and Herodians plot on how to destroy him, even his family comes to take him home, convinced that he is mad. Moreover, in today’s Gospel, the Master seems to again bump up against the traditions of his time, here stretching the definition of family. He has already extended our understanding of holiness (beyond dietary proscriptions and ritual purifications), he has pushed the boundaries of Sabbath and forgiveness, modeling acceptance and inclusion. After all, what happens when a man stands up and says, "Enough is enough"?
It was in Oslo, way, when Dr. King, the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize at the time, accepted the award with these words: "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant." In victory or defeat, we are challenged to stand up. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.