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.” 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.”
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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Mark’s Gospel presents a jarring theology of the family. Rather than our blood relatives, our true religious family is anyone who “does the will of God.” It is helpful to remember that Christianity was generally a despised religious sect in the Roman world of the late first century because Christians refused to worship the traditional deities and instead denounced them as mere lifeless idols. Christians also stood up for those ostracized by society, and anyone who stands up for the marginalized is bound to be marginalized as well. It is likely this pericope reflects experiences of early Christians who were likewise ostracized by their families and larger social groups.
Where do you need to do God’s will, even at the risk of abandonment, insult or ridicule? Where is doing the “will of God” the right thing to do but unpopular among your social circles?
Lord God, you invite us to do your will, even when it is the hard or unpopular thing to do. Give us the courage to respond to your invitation and stand with those on the margins so that we may truly be brothers and sisters of Christ. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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