Today’s Gospel is one of the shorter readings upon which we reflect. It is a mere two verses. Though these two verses contain a fascinating scene. Jesus’ relatives deem him insane and seek to seize him. Whoa, what is going on here? I think it is a case of meaning well but having no idea.
Seizing a family member that you have collectively diagnosed as unstable might not sound like the definition of ‘meaning well’ but we should consider the circumstances. Jesus is a Jew in Roman occupied Palestine. He is contending with the Sadducees. He is parrying the Pharisees. And from the Roman’s perspective, He is amassing large followings with all of His “kingdom” talk. He hasn’t gone out of his way to ensure that He has a stamp of approval from the establishment. Then He shows up near home and His crowd is so massive that the people in the house can’t even eat. To His relatives this might look like the work of a man who is trying to get Himself killed. In turn, seizing Him might just be a way to keep Him safe.
However, I don’t think they get it. They don’t get that He is doing ministry with the cross in mind. He is radically available and so attractive to those in need because He is coming to them with one eye on His own hour of abject need. All of His ministry is done under the shadow of the cross. Not in the sense that His ministry has some defeatist attitude to it. Rather, it is done in the freedom of His complete self-emptying.
The catch for us, the difficult catch, is that He calls us to that as well. He calls us to live from the cross. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans reminds us that in our baptism we were baptized into His death. That we may rise with Him, yes, but we are already dead. Jesus calls us to something similar with His words, “Whoever saves His life will lose it and whoever loses His life will save it.” Christ has called us all to live under the freedom that flows from His cross. The freedom that “cleanse[s] our consciences from dead works to worship the living God” as the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us.
However sometimes we don’t get it. Sometimes, we think Jesus might be going just a little too far. And we seize Him and put Him away for a little while. I think we mean well. It’s just what He is suggesting sounds ludicrous. He must be insane, right?
Today, be open to letting go of Jesus in an area of your life where you thought He was just a little too insane for what you were ready for. Don’t seize Him. Instead, let Him seize you.