21 January
Mk 3:20-21

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.’

I knew a man who had spent some time in a psychiatric hospital.  On his discharge he went drinking with a few of his old friends.  When a dispute arose among them, one of them dismissed some opinion of his by saying he was only a madman anyway.  “On the contrary,” he replied, “I’m the only man here who can prove that he’s sane!”  “Prove it then!” they challenged.  He invited bets, and when he had secured bets of several pints of Guinness he put his hand in his pocket and drew out the certificate of discharge from the psychiatric hospital.  It stated there in black and white that he was sane.

Who is sane and who is mad?  Today’s reading is ambiguous, though the translations all say that it was Jesus who was mad.  But a scholar noted that the Greek could also be translated, “they (the family) set about controlling it (the crowd) because it was beside itself.”  Was Jesus mad, or was the crowd mad? 

What is madness but a definition by some group who are probably madder themselves?  In the 4th century, Abba Antony, the founder of monasticism, said: “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”

 

 
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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 

 

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