After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. On the third day, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and did obeisance. David said to him, "Where have you come from?" He said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel." David said to him, "How did things go? Tell me!" He answered, "The army fled from the battle, but also many of the army fell and died; and Saul and his son Jonathan also died."
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them; and all the men who were with him did the same. They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stonger than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!
Then Jesus went home; 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."
Today's readings prompt some insights into sharing the mind of Christ. Our Lord was so caught up in the needs and sorrows of his fellow human beings, according to Mark, that he has no time even to eat. His family thought him no longer responsible for himself and planned to "take him in charge." They actually think him "out of his mind." The two sides of Jesus' personality are very visible here: first, he is neglecting his health and must be forced to take some rest and food. On the other hand, he is so overcome by the sight of human misery and need that he expends himself totally to bring us help.
At the base of our Lord's existence was enormous love and overwhelming compassion. We can just hear Jesus echoing the words of David's dirge: "I grieve for you, my brother. Most dear have you been to me; more precious my love for you, than love for women." The last line may strike us as awkward. Yet it must be said that Jesus freely renounced the possibility of marriage so that he might give himself to each person more completely even than man and woman give themselves to each other in marriage.
Mark suggests strongly that a lot of people did not really understand Jesus during his public ministry. One of the questions that keeps coming up in one form or another is, "Who then is this?" In today's extremely short gospel reading, it is clear that even Jesus' relatives do not understand Jesus or what he is about. When Jesus' workload prevents him from eating properly, Mark tells us that his relatives set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind. They would go on to learn on that occasion that Jesus was not open to being taken charge of by his relatives. The only one who was in charge of Jesus was God. Jesus was doing God's work, and part of that work was to form a new family, a family of disciples, of brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of God. Jesus' own natural family, his relatives, would have to come to terms with that. We are all part of that new family; we are all the fruit of Jesus' work, a work that people struggled hard to understand at the time. For us who are part of this new family, the question, "Who then is this?" remains a relevant question. We are always struggling to know more fully the Son of God whose brothers and sisters we have become.