Jesus and His Relatives
K. Haugk in his book, Antagonists in the Church (p. 27-28), gave the definition of an antagonist who is someone, on the basis of non-substantive evidence, goes out of his/her way to make insatiable demands, usually attacking the person or performance of others; these attacks are selfish in nature, tear down rather than build up and are frequently directed against leadership. There are kinds of antagonists: Hard core (usually irrational and unreasonable) and Major antagonist (possible to reason with them but they will not be reasoned with). Jesus relatives are somewhat antagonists too.
The gospel today is the shortest one in our liturgical calendar, just two verses. In this short gospel account, Jesus’ relatives are somewhat upset with Jesus. He is branded by them as somebody who is out of His mind maybe because He often misses His meals and needed rest after working hard all day long. And these alarm His relatives too. Sad to say, they just see a one-sided part of Him which is His activity of helping other people rather than helping Himself first, taking care of Himself, enjoying life, taking it easy, living for the moment, worrying only about His own family and not others, etc. just like what they do. They do not see Him late in the evening or in the wee hours of the morning, communing with His Father in prayer. But somebody said that they are somewhat upset, it is because on one occasion Jesus remarked that ‘a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household,’ (Matt 10:36).
In other words these verses show us two kinds of reactions to Jesus’ actions.
First is the reaction of the crowd (v.20). They don’t have any preconceived idea about who Jesus is. The first thing they may have heard is that He is a wonder-worker, an itinerant prophet and preacher in a nearby town. They go to Him for curiosity but He goes beyond their expectations because He preaches to them the Good News and their hearts are moved with fire. He cures and drives out demons and they marvel at His works. Faith is kindled in their hearts. They don’t exactly know what do His words mean but certainly He is the One sent by God who is a prophet and perhaps the Messiah. They are all excited.
Second is the reaction of His relatives (v.21). They react very differently. It is because they know Jesus all His life in Nazareth: never done anything remarkable; just concentrated on doing His daily duties to perfection; never did miracles; perhaps occasionally said something penetrating about God or the observance of the Jewish faith in their presence. And now He leaves His father’s carpentry trade and go off to become an itinerant preacher? Jesus has thrown away the security and safety of a quiet and respectable life of His family and relatives for the sake of His mission? Maybe they ask.
Jesus’ actions perfectly show us a balance between silence and words, withdrawal and closeness. Until the end of His earthly life, Jesus keeps on giving and receiving, healing and suffering, working and praying. He strikes the balance of a Christian life.
Regardless of what other people may see in us and say about us, let us pattern our life after that of Christ. Let us balance our love or union with God with that of love and service to our brothers and sisters. This is Christ’s way and this must be ours too.