10th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon: Rev. Liam Dunne

Published on June 7, 2024

Mark 3:20-25   Out of his mind

The opposition to Jesus is growing.  His relatives think he has gone mad (3:20-21) and the scribes (teachers of the law) have arrived from Jerusalem, from headquarters, to see what Jesus is doing and saying.  The scribes are unwavering in their opposition to Jesus.  So far Jesus has been involved in five controversies, breaking sabbath law on more than one occasion; the crowds are gathering around him, he is gaining quite the reputation as a teacher and a healer.  The scribes make two charges: one, that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, and two, that Jesus’ casts out demons’, which is considered akin to practising magic.

Today, talk of demons probably makes us uncomfortable, but it is hard to get through Mark’s Gospel without noticing that they have quite a presence as characters.  Mark uses the demons in the narrative to show the power of Jesus, to show that Jesus is the superior one, the Son of God (3:11).  For Mark, Jesus is an exorcist and a healer.  While the demons seem to have zero impact on other characters in the narrative, they confirm to us (the reader) what we already know: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  The theme of insiders and outsiders recurs throughout the Gospel and we might be horrified to see that while the demons frequently announce the real truth of who Jesus is, Jesus’ own family are outsiders, they do not understand him.  Jesus is abandoned by his family in Mark, and continuously by the religious leaders; this theme gathers pace as the Gospel moves on.  Jesus forms a new family: his family of disciples and wider circle of followers who ‘do the will of God’ (3:35).  Finally, the accusations of the scribes are not totally untrue – Jesus is possessed – but with the spirit of God (Mark 1:10).  And so,   the accusation of blasphemy is turned on the scribes themselves, because when they say that Jesus ‘has an unclean spirit’ (3:30), they are actually denying that the power of God is at work in in Jesus.

© Triona Doherty & Jane Mellet, 2023.  The Deep End: A Journey with the Sunday Gospels in the Year of Mark.  (Dublin: Messenger Publications 2023)

 

‘All that is gold does not glitter.  Not all those who wander are lost; The old man that is strong does not wither; Deep roots are not reached by the frost.        J. R. R. Tolkien