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In the gospels there are many different images and titles used to describe Jesus. He spoke about himself as being the Good Shepherd, the Bread of life and the Light of the World; just to name a few. However, this Sunday there is a description of him in the gospel with which we are not too familiar, but it is very clearly stated. The crowd of people is so big that Jesus is not even able to have a meal. When his family hear this, ‘they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.’ If we said this today about someone, it would not exactly a compliment!
Through the way he lived and spoke, Jesus offered the people of his time and us today a message and set of values that are very radical and challenging. He did and said a lot of things that were not popular or acceptable according to the Jewish Law of the time. He went out of his way to be with people who were seen as sinners and outcasts. He spent time and ate with tax collectors. He publically spoke to and deliberately touched those who were sick, even lepers. He made time to be with and welcomed women into his company. We think of the woman who touched the hem of his garment, the woman who anointed him with oil and the woman he met at the well. So obvious was his unusual and radical behaviour that the Pharisees pointed their finger at him to publically condemn and criticise him. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was certainly out of his mind and as we just heard, even his family were concerned about him.
The message and life Jesus are very radical and demanding, even for us today. We are asked to follow a man who loved us so much that he gave himself to us at a meal, who bent as low as a slave to wash our feet and who then gave his life for us on a cross. To follow Jesus and the example of his life calls for great courage and conviction on our part. There is always the danger that people might think that we too are out of our minds if say we are following Jesus.
On March 24th this year a gunman took and held hostages in supermarket in France, even killing some of them. A police man, called Arnaud Beltrame freely offered to take the place of the remaining hostages. In the end he gave his own life to save others. He was described as showing exceptional courage and selflessness as he sacrificed himself to save these people. Jesus said, No one can have greater love than to lay down their lives for their friends. This police man did not even know any of the people he died for and saved.
Was he out his mind as well like Jesus? Or did he have the courage of his convictions and faith to live and die as Jesus has shown us?
Michael Moore OMI