O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole creation to your glory,
hidden through past ages
and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what the Lord God will say,
for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,
that they turn not again to folly.
Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other;
Truth shall spring up from the earth
and righteousness look down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give all that is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness shall go before him
and direct his steps in the way.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus went home, and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’
People were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’
Has anyone ever spoken of you in such terms? Have you ever said this of someone else? Have you ever said this of yourself? Whether or not you have ever spoken of someone as having gone out of his mind, the phrase will carry some meaning for you. So … what does it mean? Those words could be referring to mental illness or simple confusion. They could be referring to delusions of grandeur or total absorption and preoccupation. They could be referring to misunderstood divine inspiration or a time of ecstatic disconnect from reality. Of course, the phrase, he has gone out of his mind, can be used to mean all of these things, and more, because, basically, it is a phrase that is universally used to mean ‘this person doesn’t think in the same way as me,’ or ‘he or she has different opinions and values to me’.
Before considering why such words might have been used of Jesus, let us pause to consider why they might be used of us. How often have we found ourselves confused or delusional? How often have we been so committed to a task or felt in the grip of divine revelation? The truth is that we have probably spent much of our lives avoiding moments that mark us out in this way. It is the human norm that most of us seek to get lost in the crowd; avoid being marked out as different; blending into the background. Of course, such a craving for neutrality and blandness mitigates against our fully responding to God’s call into discipleship, not to mention apostleship.
Returning to today’s short reading, we meet Jesus as he returns to his home town. Throughout this week’s readings we have seen Jesus hemmed in by crowds. Today is no different. The desire to be in his presence and to receive his healing touch is now so great that he cannot even find time and space to eat. It seems to be on this basis alone that people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ What an interesting, incorrect and inconsequential conclusion for the people to reach!
Jesus came into the human condition to fulfil a specific mission. Jesus came to build a new relationship between God and humanity. Jesus came to model a life of love and service. It was this path of self-giving that led others to proclaim: He has gone out of his mind. The big question that hangs over today’s reading is whether we could be described as having gone out of our minds for the same reason?
We are called to be disciples and apostles. We are called to love and serve. We are called to observe God’s gift of the Sabbath in order that we might find the strength to fulfil all of those layers of calling. So … are we ready to totally commit ourselves in all these ways? Or, are we just going to carry on as normal?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, our heavenly Father.
Sovereign Lord, your Son has revealed you as our heavenly Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
You have made your Church a spiritual family, a household of faith. Through baptism we are reborn as the brothers and sisters of Christ. Deepen our unity and fellowship in him.
You sent your Son to give his life as a ransom for the whole human family. Give justice, peace and racial harmony to the world he died to save.
You gave your Son a share in the life of a family in Nazareth. Help us to value our families, to be thankful for them, and to live sensitively within them.
Your Son drew around him a company of friends. Bring love and joy to all who are alone. Help us all to find in the brothers and sisters of Christ a loving family.
You are the God of the dead as well as of the living. In confidence we remember those of the household of faith who have gone before us. Bring us with them to the joy of your home in heaven.
Prayer for the week
To your keeping, O Lord God,
we commend all whose enjoyment of life
has been taken away by sickness,
by tragedy, or by the sin of man.
May your love sustain them in their suffering,
and may your people care for them
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Just as I am, without one plea
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Charlotte Elliott (1789–1871)