|Christ Preaches the Disciples - Duccio di Buoninsegna|
Today’s gospel is probably one of the shortest passages of the lectionary, and because of this there may be a temptation to overlook it. But there are two important features in our reading that can tell us something about Jesus and us, his Church.
Just before going home, Jesus appoints the twelve Apostles; these men form the core of the new family Jesus gathers around himself. The apostles, meaning “those who are sent”, rally the crowds so that the good news of the Kingdom of God begins to spread twelve times faster than before. In a very short space of time the new family gathered around Jesus becomes a crowd wanting to listen to him, wanting to be healed by him, wanting to be with him. The number of people is so great that even the simplest things in life – such as having a meal together – become difficult.
Seen in this light the reaction of Jesus’ relatives is fairly understandable. The gospel says ‘they set out to take charge over him’; meaning they want to section him somehow, but not necessarily because they think he would be a bad influence, rather because they fear for his life. Jesus’ actions will not go unnoticed by the authorities for very long, and the relatives want to stage an intervention before it’s too late.
This is the Jesus our gospel; someone misunderstood by those who were meant to be his own kin; someone who gathers around himself a new family which transcends bonds of kinship but is bound together in one single aim of following him. In this gospel passage Jesus does not need to speak, his presence and his actions are revolutionary enough.