When Jesus is Crazy

(Read today's Gospel)

I’ve always been intrigued by this strange story in which Jesus is apparently healing people right and left and left and right, so that the word begins to get out not only that an untold number of people are being healed but that the healer, this guy named Jesus who came from Nazareth of all places, is acting very strangely.  

There are so many people gathered, and there is so much to be done, that there isn't even time to stop and eat. Apparently Jesus is so focused on healing everyone who comes to him that he is perceived as being in a frenzy.  He is not just working at a frenzied pace; he himself is in a frenzy.

This disturbs the people. They begin to say that Jesus is not in his right mind and then that Jesus must be possessed by the Evil One.  What else could it be?

Everyone believes Jesus is crazy.

I find it interesting that the focus is on Jesus’ behavior and not the fruit of his work. People are healed, right and left and left and right! But the response narrows down to this:  There's something weird about Jesus. He's out of his mind, maybe demonic. Somebody needs to come and get him.

Nobody asks this question: who is going to help the people who are so needy that Jesus is sacrificing himself daily to bring them back to wholeness? 

Nope. All these people are restored but the focus is on the sanity of the healer. Who in their right mind would do what Jesus does and do it with so much passion and compassion? Who would be so selfless and giving? Who would care so much for those that others don't have time for? Who would be in a frenzy to make others whole?

And so he must be crazy. And his family hears about it and comes to take him away. Leaving the question remaining. Who is going to help the people Jesus came to help?

The irony is, of course, that while everyone is trying to ferret out a motivation for Jesus's behavior, they end up with "mental illness" for an answer instead of "God's overwhelming compassion and desire for healing, wholeness, and reconciliation among God's people." 

Now, we might wonder why is it that God is so passionate about those who are broken and suffering who often go unseen or are even ignored by the rest of us?

Well God is mystery. On my best days, I am content to believe that God made us and God loves us and God wants us to be whole. If that's crazy, then fine by me. 

I don't want to make light of mental illness. Nor do I want to make light of the real anxiety that many of us have when trying to comprehend mental illness or poverty or chronic health issues. 

Often I ignore because I don't believe I am equipped to even cope with, much less actually help, people who are in dire straits. I don't mean to be callous, I just feel inadequate.

But see, God created community. We don't have to solve these huge problems alone. We don't have to take care of everyone ourselves. We do these things together as family or friends or neighbors or just plain members of society. Because God wants healing and wholeness in a big way and we want to want what God wants.

But first, we have to be able to see those that others ignore; we have remember that they are God's beloved. We have to believe that God wants them to be whole. We have to believe that we can contribute somehow to their well-being as a community of God's beloved ourselves and to step out in faith and in love. 

We have to ask this question every day: who will care for those who are in such dire straits, those for whom wholeness seems so elusive? Jesus was crazy about them. Perhaps we should be, too.