Skip to content

SATURDAY HOMILY: He is Out of His Mind

By Fr. Peter J. Irving III
1/26/2013 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (

The Gospel of today's Mass is as shocking as it is short. Although just two verses long, it packs an unexpected punch when we our told Jesus' relatives try to seize him because, as they say: "He is out of his mind."


LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - The Gospel of today's Mass is as shocking as it is short. Although just two verses long, it packs an unexpected punch when we our told Jesus' relatives try to seize him because, as they say: "He is out of his mind." (St. Mark 3:21)

This passage which is unique to St. Mark has its interpretive challenges. Who are these "relatives," for instance? The Greek phrase that is employed here is variously translated "relatives," "family," and even "friends." It literally means "those from the side of him (Jesus)." While the argument can be made for a broader interpretation of this phrase (e.g., friends, disciples, or followers), it is most often rendered as "relatives" or "family" of Jesus.

Who are they exactly?

Some have identified these "relatives" with the "mother and brothers" of Jesus who show up later in this chapter: "His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him" (verse 31). But this is a stretch that requires reading into the text something which isn't there.

The best argument of those who hold this view is that the linkage between verses 21 and 31 is implied. This argument is very weak. The identification of the "relatives" of verse 21 with the "mother and brothers" of verse 31 is far from explicit. Besides, the latter "arrive" after the former make their unsettling mental health assessment of Jesus.

If I may pursue this point further, the obvious must be stated: how could she to whom the identity of her Son had been revealed by the angel (St. Luke 1) arrive at the conclusion that "Son of the Most High" whose "Kingdom will have no end" was mentally unstable? The answer to this question is simply: it is not possible.

Setting aside these interpretive questions regarding the "who" of verse 21, let us now look at the statement itself: "He is out of his mind." There's no debate about the meaning of these words. Those who spoke them meant exactly what they said. They were convinced that Jesus had gone mad.

The irony of this is underscored when we consider who Jesus is. He is God Incarnate, "Perfect God" and "Perfect Man". In the sacred humanity of Jesus we have the "perfect specimen," so to speak, of human health and wholeness. This means if anyone was "out of his mind" that day, we can be sure it wasn't Jesus.

In a fallen, upside down world which calls evil good and good evil those who are truly sane will be written off as crazy. They did this to Jesus, they did this to the Saints throughout history and they will do the same to those who faithfully follow Him today.

Defend the dignity of the unborn child? They will call you an "anti-abortion extremist." Fight for the protection of marriage as the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of begetting children? They will call you a "hater." Strive to be a faithful Christian and live a life in conformity with Christ's teachings? They will call you a "right wing nut job."

If this is madness, would that we were all so mad.

St. John tells us that Jesus "loved His own to the end," to the extreme! His entire earthly life was poured out in love for us! Let us ask Our Lady to help us to love Him and all souls with the same madness of love with which Our Lord has loved us.

In closing, let us make this prayer of St. Josemaria our own: "Sweet Mother, lead us to that madness that will make others fall madly in love with our Christ. Sweet Lady Mary, may Love not be in us a flash in the pan, or a will-o'-the-wisp, such as decomposing corpses sometimes produce. May it be a true devouring fire, which sets alight and burns everything it touches." (The Forge, 57)


Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and is Pastor of Holy Innocents Church, Long Beach, CA. 


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for APRIL 2018
For those who have Responsibility in Economic Matters.
That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.


More Year of Faith

Let us Celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Let us Make Haste to our Brethren Watch

Image of

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We ... continue reading

The Feast of the Sacred Heart and Our Mission Watch

Image of Saint Margaret Mary of Alocoque encountering the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The heart is the center of a person, the place from which he/she makes the choices which will affect the world within them and around them. ... continue reading

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.