January 21, 2023
by Mirielle Mason
Creighton University's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
Lectionary: 316

Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14
Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Mark 3:20-21

Praying Ordinary Time

How do I prepare for Mass on Sunday?

Family plays an important role in every life. Our gospel today details one way in which those we love can help keep us in line, and how we can help set boundaries with them.

We enter at a point in the Gospel where Jesus has become so committed to His teaching, that He has not allowed Himself time even to eat. Today, we are becoming more cognizant about the importance of self-care and its many forms. Regularly putting nutritious food in our bodies is one meaningful way of doing that. Jesus’s loved ones become concerned for Him due to their perception that Jesus has such a severe lack in personal time that He has not eaten. The next verses in Mark’s gospel show how the disciples go so far as to say Jesus is out of His mind and possessed by the devil. Now, from the perspective of the disciples, they are trying to remind their friend, Jesus, that He needs to put Himself first sometimes. This is an important lesson for us to learn. We have a responsibility to ourselves to take good care of the bodies and lives we have been gifted by God.

So, we know Jesus hears this advice, but what does He do with it? He appreciates it, but respectfully declines it and teaches a lesson. If we keep reading, we see that Jesus summons the people and kindly explains that He is not out of His mind (i.e., not possessed by the devil), because how could He possess the power to expel demons if He Himself was possessed? Jesus drives this point home by stressing the significance of unity within a family. This, I believe, is crucial. He is asking His family, the disciples, to stand with Him and the choices He is making. He appreciated the concern from His loved ones, but also stood firm in His own beliefs by explaining His side to them. This is the second important lesson. When faced with difficulty within a family we must set boundaries, and do so compassionately yet firmly.

Lastly, I am reminded that family is not determined by blood. We choose our family. We may choose the people genetically related to us, or we may not. In this scripture, Jesus makes very clear that the disciples are his companions, and all who do the will of God are family to Him. Not all of us are blessed with a healthy nuclear family. Sometimes, we have to search for one. I would like to encourage those in this situation to be empowered, instead of burdened, by this choice. Those who are true family make themselves known, and we should never forget that we all have a family in Christ and His followers.

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