Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jesus misunderstood

Mark 3:20-21
" Jesus went home, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal.  When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind"

It would be easy to brush over today's short Gospel, but if we stop and reflect we can see that it challenges us in two ways.  Firstly, we can ponder the life of Jesus and try to realize how he was misunderstood: even his own family "went out to seize him, for people were saying, "He is beside himself"(verse 21). Secondly, we can reflect on the personal cost of following Jesus.

Jesus was considered by some to be mad. He healed the sick, he forgave sinners, he associated with the outcasts, he often spent all night praying, he went without meals, he had no home of his own, he claimed God was his Father, he challenged the religious leaders of his day. He taught people to love their enemies and to do good to those who hurt them, and to seek greatness by being last and serving others. The Gospels reveal how Jesus had an effect on those he met, whether they marvelled at him, knelt before him,were puzzled by him or plotted to kill him.

As we seek to follow Jesus, and by his Holy Spirit grow more like him, then we too can expect to be laughed at or to meet opposition.  This may already be our experience.  Jesus calls us to take the lowest place - in contrast, the world encourages us to strive for success and praise.  Jesus calls us to love and serve others even when this involves personal sacrifice - the world encourages us to seek comfort and indulge ourselves.  In these and in so many other ways Jesus' call to holiness and the qualities he seeks to form in us go against the world and expose us to ridicule.  Mother Teresa wrote:

We are looked down on by some because of our lack of culture and education, our inefficiency in our work for lack of proper qualifications, or because of our awkwardness.  Some do not understand our way of life or our charity to the poor and so they criticize us.  Even so Christ was despised.... so we are blessed again in sharing the same lot as Christ, though in a very small way.

"From the fear of being humiliated,  deliver me, Jesus.  From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus.  From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus.  O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours" [Adapted from a prayer by Rafael]

[ This extract was taken from Bible alive reading for 24th January 2015]

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