10th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – June 9, 2024

 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – June 9, 2024

Genesis 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; Mark 3:20-35

 

Theme: “Whoever Does the Will of God is my Brother and Sister and Mother.”

The Scripture readings today, which delve into the relationship between evil and good, hold profound significance for our understanding of faith. In the Gospel passage, we witness the Scribes and some of Jesus’ family associating Jesus’ behavior and ministry of exorcism with the forces of evil. The first reading, through the story of Fall, tells us about evil's origin. In the second reading, Saint Paul reflects on suffering and eventual glory. He assures us that this present life of suffering caused by evil is temporary since eternal glory awaits us. Paul's confidence in the eventual triumph of good over evil is a powerful testament to our faith.

Our Gospel passage is the last story of chapter 3 in the Gospel of Mark. It is preceded by three other stories. Understanding these stories will help us to know the context of our text. First, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees and Herodians took counsel against him to put him to death because he did not respect the Sabbath (3:1-6). Second, Jesus withdrew with his disciples, and many people from different cities and towns followed him because they heard the miracles Jesus was performing. He cured many of them and warned unclean spirits not to make him known as they would fall down and shout, “You are the Son of God.” (Vv. 7-12). Third, among all those following him, Jesus appointed twelve apostles to be with him and be sent forth on a mission to preach and have the authority to drive out demons (vv. 13-19). Our story picks up from here. Jesus returned home accompanied by his disciples.

The text contains parables and images. It is divided into three parts. The narrator begins by recounting how Jesus was rejected by his own relatives and Scribes who accused him of being “out of his mind” and “possessed by Beelzebul and prince of demons,” respectively (vv. 20-22). Then comes Jesus’ reply to the Scribes who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, the source of force Jesus uses to drive out demons (vv. 23-30). Lastly, the narrator deals with Jesus’ understanding of who his family is really (vv. 31-35).

Mark commences our story by telling us that Jesus came home. This is his house in Capernaum (see 2:1-2, 15). After working hard, he finally returned home, probably to rest. However, he and his disciples could not rest and eat because many people followed him. Jesus faced double rejections. The first rejection came from his own relatives. They misunderstood his mission and considered him 'out of his mind,' a condition often attributed to evil spirits in biblical times. The second rejection was that of the Scribes from Jerusalem. They accused him of doing his ministry of exorcism in cooperation with Beelzebul and the prince of demons. (vv. 20-22). As Christians, sometimes we experience misunderstandings and rejections from the people, including the closest ones. Jesus's resilience and unwavering commitment to his mission should inspire us to strengthen our faith in the face of adversity.  

First, Jesus undid his relatives' and Scribes’ arguments in different connected parables. Using the examples of a kingdom or a house that cannot stand when it is divided against itself, Jesus sustained that Satan cannot drive out Satan less it is his end. He concluded with the most essential parable: to enter a strong man’s house and rob his property, one must tie up this strong man first (vv. 23-27). This strong man and his house stand for Satan with his kingdom. Jesus is the stronger and the mightier one (as John the Baptist had identified him in 1:17), who untied up Satan and ended his reign by establishing God’s kingdom. 

Second, Jesus said that all sins and blasphemies would be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Here, Jesus identifies as a sin against the Holy Spirit the guilt of those who interpreted God’s action through him as a manifestation of evil. In other words, not accepting Jesus as the Son of God and not believing that he did his mission (and continues to do so through his Church and all baptized) through the power of the Holy Spirit constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; therefore, it cannot be forgiven. This part of the Gospel calls us to have great faith in Jesus.

Mark ends our Gospel story with a scenario in which Jesus’ mother and “brothers,” meaning cousins, come to search for him. The crowd tells him that his family is outside looking for him. In response, Jesus defines his family as not necessarily those from his natural family but all men and women who can do God’s will. The will of God Jesus is talking about is to accept and believe in him. He is God's Son whose mission is to end the devil’s reign and establish the heavenly kingdom. Here, the Church teaches us that we cannot claim we are God’s children if we do not accept and believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we are adopted.

Let us pray in this Mass that God might increase our faith in Jesus so that we avoid any sin against the Holy Spirit and always do his will. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

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