Click on image to go to an animated poem video produced by Rick McVicar (YouTube).
Text and images by Rick McVicar
Nature, mental health and demons run amuck in accusations hurled at Jesus by his family as well as by scribes when he returns home (Mark 3:20-30, NRSV).
While Jesus’ family thinks, “‘He has gone out of his mind,’” scribes say Jesus is full of “Beelzebub… ruler of demons” (3:21-22, NRSV).
I have not heard much mention in churches of Jesus being labeled “insane.” However, his own family hangs that label around his neck. Maybe Jesus ‘ death is not caused by our sin in some type of sacrificial moral universe. Maybe Jesus dies because those around him think he is crazy.
Personally, I always thought the sacrificial idea to be a bit crazy and self-centered. I mean, I must think a lot of myself if I think my salvation is brought by God’s son dying. It sounds narcissistic to me.
Instead, I believe Jesus brings the Kingdom, so that our salvation is communal in nature.
The family’s concern raises the issue of mental illness and the stigma attached to it. As a result, Jesus’ family seeks to “restrain him” (3:21, NRSV). The use of restraints has been a time-honored tradition for treating people with mental illness.
The scribes use the family’s concern to make the connection to demonic possession. In Jesus’ time, the two go hand in hand. In a pre-scientific world, Jesus cannot be expected to know about brain chemistry or brain health.
Of course, we know better now, don’t we? Or do we? After all, the stigma attached to mental illness is still very much with us. For instance, guns cannot be blamed for mass shootings, otherwise America’s second amendment would be placed in jeopardy. So let’s blame people with mental illness instead.
That’s probably enough food for thought for now. So go out and have yourself artful health.
Click on image to go to "Hot Holidays," a music video on YouTube.