Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 20-35
From R. Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 408-409: Today’s reading includes a concern and lack of understanding of Jesus’ family, further incomprehension from his opponents in a double accusation, Jesus’ response to the accusations of the Jews and finally a return to Jesus’ family and a response to their charge. It is all in the context of the crowd pressing in on Jesus and his disciples, leaving them little room to even eat. The statement that Jesus’ family thinks he is mentally unstable is not found in the other synoptic Gospels. What does this passage stir up in you?
- Jesus states that internal division leads ultimately to the downfall of a kingdom, a house, or Satan. If Jesus is an agent of Satan, then in his working to cast Satan out, they are at cross purposes. Satan is doomed to fail.
- What is unforgivable is to call the work of God evil or to call an emissary of God an agent of Satan. It is to call light darkness. To do so is to reject the reign of God and thus by one’s own decision to move oneself to an unforgivable position. Yet all sins can be forgiven, even the one here cited, with repentance. What Jesus does here is underscore its extreme seriousness and the unlikely chance of reconciliation [because of our own rejection]. John Kavanaugh SJ says, “The sin against the Sprit occurs when I say, ‘I refuse to acknowledge that I need forgiveness.’ I refuse to be forgiven. I refuse to believe that God has answered. I refuse to believe even that there is good, for it is only another face of the evil I believe in,” (liturgy.slu.edu).
- When Jesus refers to his “global family”, He is referring to the new order which goes beyond that of the flesh.
From T. a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ: “I fight within myself and become burdensome to myself, while my spirit desires to soar and my flesh is earthbound. Oh, what do I suffer inwardly when in my mind I behold heavenly things and a great multitude of carnal thoughts soon enters my soul!” (p. 175)…AND THEN…”It stands in a man (woman) offering all his (her) heart wholly to God, not seeking himself (herself) or his (her) will, either in great things or in small, in time or in eternity, but abiding always unchanged and always yielding to God equal thanks for things pleasing and displeasing, weighing them all in one same balance, as in His love,” (p. 143).
The Examen can help us discern when we have internal division. We review our day to reflect on where God is by (Taken from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com):
- Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
- Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.
- Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
- Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong – in my life and in me.
- Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.
Reading 1: Genesis 3: 9 – 15
A question being asked here is: How does sin come into our life? Innocent-seeming, a mere suggestion or conversation that soon develops legs – and lies – and walks away with our whole future. Sin is clever that way. It asks us simply to say no to God to believe a lie, rather than the truth of God’s Word. Once we’re willing to do that, anything is possible (Exploring the Sunday Readings, 2/05).
From John Kavanaugh again (liturgy.slu.edu): All the goods of the earth were made to look tarnished by the deceptions of the serpent. The only imposter presented as the most desirable good was the rejection of God’s will in denying our creatureliness.
In other words, we were made for good! God intends good for us, not bad. We need to be open and see outside of ourselves (our ego) at the good God is trying to work in us. It will never work if we remain self-sufficient. We must need God. And needing God requires vulnerability…something very hard to grasp sometimes. As a matter of fact, we don’t grasp it at all. We unclench our fists and let God happen in us. Henri Nouwen says, “…to be the way without being ‘in the way,’” (Reaching Out, p. 108).
Reading 2: 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1
Paul reminds us of the good news: everything indeed is FOR us…in abundance…overflowing!
This reading reminds me of a Mary Oliver poem, “The Summer Day”:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?