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?