One can rightly say today, welcome back to the Ordinary Time in the liturgical cycle of the Church. This is the first Sunday we are back in ‘green’ since Ash Wednesday. Being Ordinary Time, we pick up the missionary journey of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of St Mark.

We find ourselves at the early stages of Jesus’ ministry in and around the Sea of Galilee. Just prior to what we heard in today’s gospel reading, Jesus had begun proclaiming his invitation of the people to a life of repentance and entry into the kingdom of God. He showed this proclamation in two ways: he began calling together a group of disciples, and he followed up this invitation with a series of healings.

These healings at the early stage of Jesus’ mission—of Peter’s mother-in-law, of a person possessed, of a leper and, finally, of a great crowd of suffering people—are striking enough to have resulted in causing quite a stir throughout the region. By the time he comes back to Capernaum, his home in Galilee, things have become chaotic.

The man whom they had grown up with, Jesus from Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph, is suddenly manifesting powers they had not experienced before. What was Jesus up to? Where had this power come from? Had he gone mad, or even bad? Those on the receiving end of Jesus’ manifestation of God’s kingdom would say, neither mad nor bad, but definitively glad. You, Jesus, are showing the power of God’s presence among us. Perhaps you are the Messiah, the chosen one, we have been waiting for?

Hence the reactions, first of the scribes, who accuse Jesus of cooperating with the devil, and then his own family and neighbours, who are suddenly confronted by this ‘new man’ among them, whom they thought needed protection. Let me say a few words about the reaction of the scribes.

Note that they do not deny that Jesus had been healing many people. They were not trying to downplay what had happened; rather, they were attempting to give it a frightening twist. Great crowds were now following Jesus, who was manifesting the presence of God to them. The scribes felt threatened by this and wanted to turn the people away by accusing him of ungodly actions.

We would benefit here in seeing the extent to which the mission of Jesus was to save. Some do not wish this to be the case, when it does not fit into their vision for human society. This has always been the case, from the time of the scribes and pharisees, up to today. To find in Christ—and not in some other theory or ideology—the gift of life, and to find meaning in our sufferings and difficulties, is to find salvation and hope.

Turning briefly to Jesus’ family, we might see there a desire for protection, but it manifests itself in isolation. Keep him close; keep him away from others. But this, too, was not Jesus’ way. He called people into his life, to share in it and be transformed by it. His family and neighbours wanted him to stay the same and keep him for themselves. Christ is for all of us; he came to give all of himself to us. God, in Christ, does not wish to be isolated away from us in an ivory tower of glory; he comes close, to be near in compassion and healing. He continues to say to us: here—among you—are my mother, and sisters and brothers.

Banner image: Workshop of Pedro Subercaseaux, Jesus heals the sick, Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Las Condes, Chile. (Photo by Rodrigo Fernández via Wikimedia Commons.)