REFLECTION FOR 10th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
1st Reading – Genesis 3:9-15
The Lord God called to the man after he had eaten of the tree. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,
‘Be accursed beyond all cattle,
all wild beasts.
You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust
every day of your life.
I will make you enemies of each other:
you and the woman,
your offspring and her offspring.
It will crush your head
and you will strike its heel.’
The serpent in today’s story originally stood for the disturbing experience of temptation. The link to the devil came much later in Old Testament history (see Wisdom 2:24). Temptation is all around us, taking many forms. Our spiritual maturity is always a question of our capacity to handle temptation, how to practice humble discipline in our daily lives and make choices that grow out of oneness with God. When we yield to temptation we fall prey to various shades of darkness and, like the man and woman in the story, hide from God. The story, in the seed of the woman, foretells the coming of Christ and his deliverance. That is why it has been called the proto-gospel. Are we open to what God wants to do in our lives? Are we open to the healing and liberating power of repentance and forgiveness?
2nd Reading – 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
As we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.
That is why there is no weakening on our part, and instead, though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed day by day. Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them. And so we have no eyes for things that are visible, but only for things that are invisible; for visible things last only for a time, and the invisible things are eternal.
For we know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens.
Paul reminds us that resurrection has implications for each of our lives in the world today. Are we open to resurrection life? This is our faith: Christ’s victory over sin and death is at work in the world through the lives of those who accept his living word. Like Paul, we can all choose to live for the glory of God regardless of what is happening in our lives. Think of the opposition Paul suffered. Think of its effects on his health and wellbeing. Like Paul, we too can embrace the power of grace strengthening our inner being regardless of events that disturb and disappoint us. Are we ready to live in the resurrection of hope?
Gospel Reading – Mark 3:20-35
Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
Our gospel today offers us two stories that Mark puts together in typical fashion. What links the two stories is that both groups misunderstand Jesus. First, we have the story about Jesus’ family coming to take him away. Then we have the conflict with the scribes about Beelzebul. Then there is the question of the sin against the Holy Spirit. What is it? It means to deny that Jesus’ works are the acts of God’s awesome power at work in and through him. Each one of these aspects of the gospel point to misunderstandings of who Jesus is and the God-given meaning of his life. We live in a time of deep misunderstanding on many levels, social, political, economic, religious, moral. What do we do when we find someone else’s understanding unacceptable? How do we treat people who think differently to us? How do we pray into such realities? How do we cope with disputes and conflicts? How do we handle insults, slights, snubs or other expressions of negative feelings? How do we handle the temptation to doubt that is all around us? Do we seek to live compassionate lives as Jesus did? Do we seek the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and understanding?