19 September 2018; Der Mann

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Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 11 COR 12:31-13:13 ; Gospel LK 7:31-35

Der Mann is a philosophical concept of Martin Heidegger in this thinking on authentic living. Often people act because the crowd acts so! People see and talk in a special way because the crowd sees and talks so! Hence responsibility and morality of an action is transferred from the individual to the anonymous crowd which Heidegger calls as ‘the crowd.’

In today’s Gospel passage we encounter the crowd – the crowd whose behavior pattern is tough for Jesus to digest. John the Baptist came as an ascetic man and crowd said that he had an evil spirit while on the other hand Jesus came as one among them and they called him a glutton. Pleasing the crowd is the worst thing one can attempt to undertake. The fluctuation of the crowd is beautifully presented by Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar. When Caesar was alive, the crowd cheered him; but when Brutus spoke to them after murdering Cease they took the side of Brutus and just after that when Mark Antony spoke to them, they took the side of Caesar again. In the Gospels too we have such instances. The same crowd which marveled at the teachings of Jesus wanted to kill him a few minutes later: ‘he won the approval of all and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips (Lk 4/22)… They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him off the cliff (Lk 4/ 28). In the same way, the crowd which sang Hosanna is the same crowd which cried out ‘crucify him.’ In Acts we read similar occurrence at Iconium to Paul and Barnabbas. The same people, who wanted to worship them as gods, stoned them and dragged them outside the city.

What Jesus tells to his disciples is that they should have personal opinion of their own without going along with the crowd. The questions of Jesus bear this fact: From ‘what do people say that I am?’ to ‘What do you say that I am?’ Having a personal opinion calls for assuming responsibility and the ability to stand up against the crowd.

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