Simon: Tie him up, tie him up! You’ve heard him! He’s lost his sanity! He’s crazy!
The fishing village seemed like an agitated beehive when Jesus’ relatives came to look for him, saying he was crazy. The Nazarenes amassed at the front door, preparing ropes that would tie Jesus up while the neighbors of Capernaum shouted and laughed as they witnessed the family squabble….
Mary: Hold it, cousin Simon. Don’t do that… Lemme talk to him. Lemme pass, I’m his mother….
Mary forced her way through our house where Jesus was….
Mary: Please, don’t mind him!… My son is sick and he doesn’t know what he’s saying… He’s sick….
Jesus: No, mother. I know what I’m saying. You just wasted your time and your trip. I’m not going back with you.
Mary: Jesus, don’t be discourteous in front of these people. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, talking to me like that?
Jesus: That’s okay, mother. I’m sorry… but listen to me: They’ve poisoned your mind with silly talk. I must say this, even if they are neighbors of mine: Rumors spread like wildfire in Nazareth. I’m not aware of what they’ve told you about me, but whatever it is, if you just believe one eighth, then you’ve got only a little truth.
Simon: Oh? So, in spite of all the nonsense you uttered before, you still have the nerve to call us liars, is that right?
Jesus: Cousin Simon, the truth is… oh well, the truth is, you’re a blabbermouth.
Mary: For God’s sake, son, what’s gotten into you? How could you speak that way to your relatives?… You’ve changed a lot, Jesus. You weren’t like that before.
Jesus: Maybe it’s you who’ve changed, Mamma. You used to tell me before: “One’s gotta do what one oughtta do, regardless of what people say.” What’s happened to you now?
Mary: I’m scared, son, so scared. There’s a lot of soldiers and spies around. The situation’s getting worse every day.
Jesus: That’s why we oughtta do something soon. Or would you rather have the same situation as we have now, where people starve to death right before our eyes until the same happens to us?
Mary: It’s not that, Jesus, but…. things get so complicated. Tomorrow they might just tell me that you’ve been imprisoned and…
Jesus: Don’t think of what will happen tomorrow. We’ve enough to worry about each day, don’t you think so?
Mary: These days I’m reminded so much of your father, Joseph….
Jesus: Well, as far as I can remember, there are no cowards in Father’s family. He hid those poor fellows when the soldiers were after them. He saved their lives.
Susana: Yeah, and lost his instead. Do you want your mother to lose you too?
Mary: Don’t make me suffer this way, Jesus, I beg of you. Why don’t you just stay put in Nazareth? You can earn a living by making horseshoes, and patching roofs…. Then get yourself a wife, raise your own children, that I may one day see my grandchildren…. Why can’t you be just like the rest, Jesus? Why?
Mary dried her tears with a striped scarf she wore in her hair. She didn’t want to be seen in tears, as she felt humbled and embarrassed in the midst of the people around her. The Nazarenes were ridiculing Jesus, and the people from Capernaum were making fun of the Nazarenes. Both caused her much pain….
Simon: Don’t waste your tears for this rascal son of yours, cousin Mary. Your son doesn’t wanna work, that’s it. He’d rather involve himself in politics than work. So much silly talk, but less work. Tell me, how will your mother live if you don’t even earn anything to buy firewood? Have you got any savings at all? Have you got any business in your hands?… Why, you don’t even have a lot to bury yourself when you die!… This one thing I should tell you, Jesus: Don’t look for help at my door later, for I’ll not lend you a single centavo, do you hear?
Jesus: I never borrowed anything from you, cousin Simon. I work with my hands like you do. I owe you nothing. My mother does not feed on your bread, nor dresses herself with your clothes. This one thing I must tell you too: You seem to worry too much about the food that you eat, your own food, that is. Well, that’s right. You must earn your daily bread by your own sweat. But look at the birds of the sky, the sparrows, the seagulls…. They neither sow nor reap, nor have they saved anything, yet they don’t lack anything to eat. Everytime I see them, I ask myself: Aren’t we worth more than these birds?
Simon: Yes, you go ahead with your stories and those sweet words. But the words can’t be eaten, do you hear?
Jesus: Look at the flowers, cousin, those white lilies that grow in the field, with no one tending them. They don’t spin or weave… but whenever I see them, I wonder: Dammit, not even King Solomon, in his elegant, woolen suit, was clothed better than any of these. If God takes care of the grass that grows today but is burned tomorrow, how can He not care for us who are His children?
After Jesus had said this, Simon, his cousin, grabbed the small bag of money that was tied to his waist and proudly shook it. The people crammed together all the more to see his face better…
Simon: Listen, dreamer…. This is what counts. I don’t care about the rest. The lilies of the field? The birds?… All that’s nothing!… When you look up at the sky, to see the sparrows pass by, look with an open mouth… no bread will come down from heaven, but something else! No, my cousin, no. Tell your story to the marines… One must take life seriously.
Jesus: Not quite, Simon….
Simon: Do you expect us to beg the Lord for food with our arms crossed?
Jesus: No, Simon. One has to work. But you must also trust in Him. God knows our needs, shelter, clothing and food. If we do our part, then, He’ll not fail us. But you must also think of the needs of others who have less than you. I believe that if we concern ourselves about the needs of others more than ours, then they’ll likewise be taken care of.
Mary: Oh, son, that’s easier said… but when life becomes so difficult….
Jesus: But Mamma, you yourself taught me this. You said:
“Happier is he who gives than he who receives.” Don’t you remember anymore? “Help your brothers and sisters and God will help you,” you would tell me this day in and day out. Well, I want to help my people to be free, even if I have to pay the price that all the prophets have paid….
Mary: Your words scare me, son… I beg of you, Jesus, don’t get yourself into trouble.
Jesus: Mamma, please, don’t try to twist the road that you yourself have paved for me. Nothing is resolved with fear. Nor can you solve problems that have not come. There is enough to worry about each day….
My brother James and I remained inside the house so as not to provoke the Nazarenes the more….
James: What a cousin Jesus has!… It’s as if a mad dog had bitten him!
John: And this Susana is too much…!
James: The mother can’t even say a word!
Salome: What else can the poor woman do? It’s her son and she must take care of him.
John: For God’s sake, Jesus is already thirty years old…!
Salome: Even if he’s seventy. For a mother, her son’s age doesn’t matter.
James: Of course, and that’s the problem. For you, mothers, we never grow up and you want to control our whole life.
Salome: That isn’t so; what we want is that we support one another. We mothers suffer in anguish for whatever happens, goodness! At least, I can say I’m still fortunate because I have you near and you two have been behaving well. But who knows,… one of these days…?
John: Mamma, here you go again….
Salome: Well, you started it. Ever since this Moreno came here, you’ve been overacting. Listen to me, you crazy pair, he who plays with fire, gets burned. So, will you stop your politicizing, do you hear me? Get out of it, you guys!
James: Well, well, Mamma, a fight in here and one outside is one too many. Come, let’s see what’s happening in the street.
Outside, the squabble among the Nazarenes continued. Simon, Jesus’ cousin, was getting impatient….
Simon: Hurry up, Mary. Jesus is out of his mind. You heard him talk, didn’t you?…
Mary: Please, Jesus, let’s go back to Nazareth.
Jesus: No, Mamma, I’m stayin’ here. We’re tryin’ to do something so that you and I and all the poor of Israel will inherit God’s promise.
Mary: You don’t have to do it for me… but in memory of Joseph, may he rest in peace. Haven’t you any respect for your late father?
Jesus: My father would be very happy to see me doing this, don’t you think so, Mother? He was never a coward in the face of danger. On the contrary….
Mary: Are you disobeying me? …your mother? Jesus!… For the last time… I beg of you: come with me to Nazareth.
Jesus: I’m not going.
Mary bit her lips in a desperate gesture. Then she broke into tears, disconsolately….
Susana: Let’s go, Mary. Take it easy….
Mary: What do you want me to do, Susanna? Nothing is left for me. I had a husband, but I lost him. I had an only son, and I’ve lost him too. Nothing’s left anymore….
Susana: Take it easy, lady, don’t think about it for now…
Mary: I don’t understand, Susana…. Why does Jesus have to do this to me, why?…
Simon: Because he’s brazen. He’s rebellious and insolent. Let’s get this over with, once and for all. Jacob, give me the ropes!… If he doesn’t want to come of his own will, then, we’ll have to drag him like a beast!
Mary: Please Simon, don’t do that. Leave him alone, if he doesn’t want to come….
Simon: What? And let him do as he pleases, involving himself in politics and putting us on the spot, which could imperil our lives as his relatives? Then he’s gonna make us pay for all his fiendish acts? No way! He’s gonna come with us, whether he likes it or not!
Simon and James (Jacob) approached Jesus with two sets of rope. Jesus stood by the door of our house….
Jesus: I may be involving myself in politics, cousin Simon, while you waste your time in matters you don’t really care about. And will you please refrain from telling lies to my mother? You do nothing but spread lies and mess up people’s lives. Why don’t you live and let live? Dammit!
Simon: I dare you say that again…. Come on!
Jesus: That you mess people’s lives….
Simon lost his cool and punched Jesus in the face. The people milled around all the more. Jesus, wobbling, wiped the blood that was starting to flow from his nose….
Simon: Come on, fight like a man!… unless you’re not one! Come on, give it back to me…. Defend yourself, coward… or I’ll hit you again, and make a man out of you, sissy!…
Jesus crossed his arms and went near Simon….
Jesus: I have nothing against you, cousin. Why don’t you leave me alone?
Simon: I want you to fight me…!
Jesus: No, I won’t give you the pleasure…. You may beat me, if you want… but I’m not fighting back….
Simon waited with clenched teeth and fists. Jesus remained calm, without removing his gaze from his cousin, who, once again, lost his patience….
Simon: Idiot…. You’re an asshole!… I always thought you were nothing…. Now I’m convinced you’re even worse than I thought!… Puah!… Let’s go, Jacob! Let this puppet stay where it pleases him!… Hurry, ’cuz we have a long way to go!
The Nazarenes undertook the journey back to their village. Simon and Jacob went ahead of the group, letting out their outrage by hitting the stones along the road with their canes…. Mary, Jesus’ mother, held Susana’s arm for support, feeling very depressed because of the incident in Capernaum that afternoon….
In this episode, Jesus’ conflict with his mother is somehow overshadowed by his conflict with his cousin Simon. The materialistic personality and indifferent attitude of the cousin gave an occasion to focus on the well-known words of Jesus about the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field, which are not at all easy to explain without resorting to an alienating interpretation. This is because these words of unconditional trust in God’s providence – if not explained well – may prove to be offensive to those who, in their misery, are forced to look for means in order to survive.
Certainly, one must “eat in order to live” and not “live in order to eat.” However, because of poverty people are constrained to be “materialistic” in exerting all effort to get food for the day. This is the general situation in many countries today. Jesus does not denounce the urgency with which the poor look for means to survive. That would be in contradiction to the rest of his message. What he criticizes is the selfish ideology of the hoarder, the materialism of the greedy and that of the egoist who only think of themselves and their own well-being, in utter disregard for the needs of others. For ones who seek to break the vicious circle of having to earn more, and offer their lives in the service of others, these words of putting one’s trust in the Lord sound different. The one who fights for justice amid economic difficulties is aware that God is watching, and will provide, in addition, the means to continue the fight.
A person must not be a production machine. Nor should she be a consumer machine: To have more in life may conceal the true Christian ideal, which is being more: Being happier by giving and receiving. Mary’s being a widow accentuates her fears. In Israel, a single parent with no man in the house was extremely helpless. In the episode, Salome, in her conversation with James and John, manifests her great understanding of Mary’s situation. Mothers find it difficult to let go of children, to stop influencing them and to accept their children’s decision to engage in risky undertakings. For a newborn child to have his or her own life, the umbilical cord connecting them to the mother must be cut. Throughout the whole of life, this act must be repeated in order for the mother and son to grow and develop into mature personalities.
(Mt 6:25-34; Lk 12:22-34)