The tongue has become the instrument of satan – Saturday 2nd Week in ordinary time – Memorial of St Agnes – Mark 3:20-21

Do read also another reflection based on this Gospel text. Please click on the link

A tremendous sadness sweeps over you as you read this text. Cheap talk has led people to think that Jesus has taken leave of his senses; “he has gone out of his mind.” Was this text from scripture just a loose way of speaking, a colloquial way of saying “what’s wrong with this man?”

To the world at his time, the choices that Jesus made were bizarre. Jesus was a man with a profession. He was a carpenter’s son. No matter what we may think of a carpenter as a job title today, at the time of Jesus, this was no menial job. There were more than two dozen trades prevalent in Biblical times and carpenters and stonemasons were ranked high in demand. Why would Jesus leave it all to become a wandering Rabbi? Surely this was a ‘crazy’ decision.

But if this raised eyebrows then the fact that Jesus was on the hit list of just about every religious group including his own cousins’ disciples seemed to be a justifiable reason to pack shop and go home. We know from Mark chapter 2 and from the texts that will follow, every religious group had knives drawn out against Jesus. Mark 3:6 declares emphatically that the Pharisees and the Herodians conspired against him, formulating a plan to destroy him. To carry on when every powerful agency is against you is nothing short of madness.

In our own nation, Fr Stan Swamy was that ‘mad man’ who must have been advised by many a well-meaning friend to ‘back off’ even a little bit. Fr Stan was the ‘mad man’ who was finally incarcerated in an Mumbai prison, deprived even of a sipper and finally died; a victim of the gross misuse of state machinery to silence the voices that speak up for the marginalized.

Sadly, Our Lord was not just considered mad by the masses but was misunderstood by his own family. We are told in verse 20 that he has come home. As a son of the soil there should have been ‘hoorah’ for this wonder working Rabbi, yet his actions were misunderstood. He was so busy in ministry that sitting down to a meal had become impossible. There is concern from his family for they see how tired he is but the gossip that could be heard from the paper-thin walls had not eluded them. He was being called mad and that would hurt the ego of the members of his family. To them it would be better to nip such talk in the bud by restraining Jesus.

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