“And the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family (οἱ παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ) heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?...’” (Mk 3: 20-23)

So when Jesus was preaching, healing, and attracting crowds of people wherever He went, both His family and the religious leaders of the time, the scribes and Pharisees, wanted Him to stop. His relatives were worried about what people were saying, that “He has gone out of His mind,” – so they were concerned about their family’s reputation. In the case of the religious leaders, the concern was their own authority, which was being overshadowed by this new Teacher. They were envious and fearful of a disruption of the status quo, so they try to discredit Him by casting doubt on His spirituality: “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons,” they say, and of course the Lord easily disproves this illogical accusation.

Both the family and the religious leaders, then, were motivated by self-centered concerns. Their self-centeredness made them blind to the Person before them, Jesus Christ, and to His gifts. To them He was merely an obstacle to their own wants and perceived needs.

Today I am reminded to be attentive to other people’s gifts, and to celebrate them, with gratitude. Let me be helpful and encouraging, when I can, rather than pull others down. Because Christ works in our midst through other people, sometimes in ways that are unexpected or even disagreeable to me. Let me take a step back today, if I find myself annoyed or envious or disturbed by someone else’s journey, and praise God for unfolding the gifts of His Spirit in every unique person in my surroundings.

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