2ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
A large number of people came to him.
Jesus is a rock star! At least, that’s how it seems in today’s Gospel.
Of course, Jesus is about as different from a modern-day celebrity as you can get. He wasn’t interested in wealth or success. He never sought attention. In fact, he often tried to avoid it—like when he told the “unclean spirits” not to reveal his identity as the Son of God (Mark 3:11).
But there are some similarities between the crowds that surround today’s celebrities and the crowds of Jesus’ time. Many people want to see a celebrity for superficial reasons: to gossip about what he or she looks like (“He’s shorter than I thought!”) or simply to say that they saw someone famous.
Many in Jesus’ crowds had similar motivations. To them, he was a curiosity. Was he a prophet? A revolutionary? A wonder-worker? Many hoped that he would heal them of whatever problem afflicted them, but that didn’t mean they were ready to commit to following him.
When most of us meet a famous person, we expect that while the brief encounter may be exciting, it won’t really change our lives. But Jesus wants something deeper. He wants a relationship with us. That’s why he sent us his Holy Spirit. That’s why he established his Church, gave us the Eucharist, and inspired the New Testament writers. These are his ways of pulling us closer to him. Even though we can’t see him as the crowds did, we can deepen our relationship with him—by turning to him in repentance, praise, and thanksgiving and by meditating on his word in Scripture. Encountering Jesus takes us to a place of peace and trust. And that’s a very different place than an unruly and impulsive crowd.
In Jesus’ time, many resisted or ignored his call to discipleship. The same is true today. He is still just a curiosity for many. But he can be so much more for us. He can be a daily presence in our lives, healing us and lifting our hearts to heaven. He can fill our lives with joy and purpose. He can become our Lord and Savior.
So step out of the crowd and join Jesus by his side.
“Jesus, I don’t want you to be just a distant presence. Come, Lord, and live in my heart.”
Psalm 40:7-10, 17