Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blessed are the risk-takers (Saturday Week II in Ordinary Time, Mark 3:20-21)

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.Again the crowd gathered,making it impossible for them even to eat.When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Why would people, who were supposed to understand and support Jesus instead accuse him of being “out of his mind?” Granted, in another part of the gospel Jesus would say: “No prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Lk. 4:24), that still does not explain the harshness of his relatives’ words nor the profound disbelief they seemed to have over what he was about. But perhaps they were somehow justified in their assessment of him.

First, he chose to leave his home and the business his father had left him. No one in his right mind would simply throw away home and what was most likely a flourishing business to become a vagrant who, in his own words, “has nowhere to lay his head”.

Second, he seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he had set himself on a path of collision with both the civil and religious authorities of his day who had the power not only to have him arrested but killed. What sane person would set himself up against the powers that be?

Third, he began a little group of his own—a band, not exactly of well-educated and respectable men, but fishermen, carpenters, even a tax collector and zealot. They were hardly the kind of persons a prudent man would want to be identified with.

Fourth, he seems to have lost interest in both safety and security, not only because he chose the life of an itinerant preacher to the stable life of a happily married man running his own business, but because he seems to have lost sight of the fact that he could very well lose his life because of the choices he made.

Finally, he seems to have become completely indifferent to what society might think or say of him. He had, for all intents and purposes, become deaf to the voices of men, and heard only the voice of God.

In the minds of his relatives and friends, therefore, they felt very much justified in judging him insane and wanting to “seize” him in order perhaps to bring him home and knock some sense back into him.

Alas, Jesus had already made up his mind, and his heart and soul had already been set on the path of the mission God had given him. And nothing, not even the greatest of risks—losing his very life—could cause him to waver.

It is well for those of us who have chosen to respond to God’s invitation to the priestly life to learn from Christ and follow closely in his footsteps.

“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall see God”. (Matt. 5:8). Blessed are those who choose to risk all for Christ, for they shall see all of God’s promises to them fulfilled.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)