“. . . and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.” (Mark 3:20)
To give some context and background – Jesus has just called together his disciples, and sent them out to declare the message of Jesus. He also did some healing, and basically set the template for what his mission would be about.
“When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Verses 21 – 30)
We do not know a great deal about Jesus’ growing up years, nor about his adoptive nuclear family. Maybe there was something about him that his family felt was out of the norm for the times they lived in. I would like to think they went to “restrain” him out of care and compassion. And not out of embarrassment. I also think some of the “feel” & “nature” of this passage is attributable to Mark (or the recorder of the gospel of Mark), whose account is narrative and is a recounting of the stories told rather than an accurate chronology of what Jesus did and said.
“Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Verses 31 – 35)
It is said earlier in this passage that Jesus was talking in parables. I think this commentary on family that Jesus gave was also parable. Some of the parables that Jesus used had the people in them acting in unusual ways to prove a point. I am sure, beloved reader, you can think of some. Parables are not always easy to understand; Jesus had to on several occasions explain to his disciples what the parables he used meant, and what the symbolism was in the parables. I would like to think in the fullness of time Jesus expressed to his family the closeness and support he felt to them. But we also need to remember that Jesus started down a path that would end in his death. And, there is also the matter of belonging to the family of God which overrides blood and marriage lines. It would be so much easier, beloved reader, if things were plainly spoken and stated rather than cloaked in metaphor and innuendo. May the Holy Presence guide your thinking, beloved reader, during Ordinary Time so that you may understand the mysteries that are part of the Christian faith. Shalom & Selah!