19 Jan 2017: One among the Crowd?

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Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Heb. 7: 25-8:6; Ps. 40: 7-17; Gospel: Mk. 3: 7-12

The 21st century is characterized by mass movements. Flash mob, mass singing and dancing have become part and parcel of the youth. There are people specially trained in organizing and animating mass movements such as DJs, RJs, VJs and the like. Jesus too was a crowd puller. In the Gospel for our reflection today, we see that there were very many who came to him. Jesus appears as the icon of the people. But the specialty of the crowd is that they their loyalty swings immediately which we would see in the chapters that follow. Shakespeare mentions about the fickleness of the crowd in his play Julius Caesar. During the entry of Julius Caesar into Rome, the crowds who used to cheer for Pompey are in their best dresses to welcome Caesar: The soldier Marullus scolds the people for their temporary loyalty:  “O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft have you climbed up to walls and battlements, to towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops to see the great Pompey… And do you now put on your best attire? And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way that comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood?” There were no crowds flocking to Jesus or singing Hosanna to him when Jesus was led to Calvary because it didn’t interest them anymore. It was interesting for them to crowd around a magic-worker who at the fraction of a second could multiply loaves and heal the sick; it was nice to throng around a man who said interesting sayings and stories. But it was not interesting for the Galilean crowd to follow a man who was branded as a criminal and being led to be crucified. While reading today’s Gospel where we see Jesus as a popular figure among the Galileans, let us also keep in mind the words of the Psalmist that was actualized in the life of Jesus during his last journey: “I turned back but could not find anyone… my friends have deserted me.” Martin Heidegger, the famous German philosopher of the 20th century, develops the theory of the anonymous crowd. He says that very often in life, we plunge into the anonymity of the crowd where there is no responsibility on the individual person; rather the responsibility is transferred to the crowd which signifies no one. Today’s Gospel is an invitation for us to examine whether we are one in the crowd that flocked to Jesus without real commitment to the person of Jesus. Why are we attracted to Jesus? It would be nice to sit at the feet of Jesus when he says wonderful things but are we ready to walk with him the way to Calvary?

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