Monday, June 4, 2018

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
 
Catechism Links [1]
CCC 410-412: The Protoevangelium
CCC 374-379: Man in paradise
CCC 385-409: The fall
CCC 517, 550: Christ as exorcist
“The Fall of Man” by Carlo Cignani, c. 1700
Readings for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [2]
 
 
Readings and Commentary: [4]
 
Reading 1: Genesis 3:9-15
 
The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
 
Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”
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Commentary on Gn 3:9-15
 
Adam and Eve are confronted by God after having eaten from the Tree of Wisdom the fruit of which was forbidden to them. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. Thus, the identity of the serpent is now synonymous with the Devil. This passage, because of that linkage, can now be classified as the first prediction of the Messianic struggle with evil and ultimate victory.
 
Contained here is the scriptural evidence of Original Sin. The story is also called “The Fall,” as God’s human creation (personified in Adam and Eve) falls from grace and is condemned to suffer the struggle to regain the blessed state throughout history. Mankind has disobeyed God and defied his will; in doing so sin and death enter the world.
 
CCC: Gn 3:9-10 399; Gn 3:9 410, 2568; Gn 3:11-13 400; Gn 3:11 2515; Gn 3:12 1607; Gn 3:13 1736, 2568; Gn 3:14-19 2427; Gn 3:15 70, 410, 489
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Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8
 
R. (7bc) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
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Psalm 130 is a song of lament. The psalmist cries out to God to hear the voice of the one who calls, and to forgive the sins they have committed. The third verse, which is also the refrain, sums up the lament saying that if there is no forgiveness all will fall because all have sinned.
 
CCC: Ps 130:3 370
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Brothers and sisters:
Since we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore we speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more
people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Therefore, we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have a building from God,
a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
 
St. Paul quotes the Greek version of Psalm 116:10. The Hebrew reads “I believed, even when I said.” It is a hymn of thanksgiving in which David recalls his faith in Yahweh during times of distress and remembers how he was rescued. Paul and the other disciples share this faith that God will deliver them from mortal dangers-even death itself-and expect to thank him in return.
 
In either Greek or Hebrew, faith is the cause of belief. “…knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” The Apostle encourages the faith community to disregard the trials to which the body is subjected, keeping always before them the certain knowledge of the resurrection. Taking this understanding to its logical next level, in 5:1, the Apostle reflects upon the body, the human form we wear on earth. He differentiates it from the glorified body to be received in the resurrection “…a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
 
CCC: 2 Cor 4:14 989; 2 Cor 5:1 1420
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Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
 
Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind."
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul,"
and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."
 
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
 
Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be
forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
His mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."
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Commentary on Mark 3:20-35
 
(3:20-21) Jesus returns to his home and is greeted with disbelief by some his own relatives. They likely believe, because of his excessive focus on his mission and the claims made about his actions, that he has become delusional.
 
This passage provides a sense of the challenges Jesus faces in his mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God. His fame had clearly spread as a consequence of his teaching, his natural charisma, and his miraculous healing power. The disbelief of even his relatives is a barrier to be overcome.
 
(3:22-30) The conflict between Jesus and the Scribes reveals itself completely. They are now openly calling him “prince of the demons”. The Lord summons them and demonstrates with parables the foolishness of their claim. He first asks the ironic question that could be paraphrased “If I, who destroy unclean spirits, am from the originator of those spirits, were in league with him, he has destroyed himself.” He continues an analogy about the strong man protecting his house. In this case he, Jesus would represent the defender of the house (of Israel) and those attacking him, attempting to tie him up.
 
He concludes this passage with an important theological understanding. The Son of God came into the world so that sins might be forgiven (“…all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.”) He then defines the Holy Spirit and Himself as one in the same (essence) by saying that whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit (as the scribes had just done in calling Jesus an emissary of Satan) would be guilty of an everlasting sin (- their sin would never be forgiven).
 
(3:31-35) This passage, while affirming our own adoption as brothers and sisters in Christ, does cause some confusion among those who take scripture at face value without understanding the culture of the time. The first part of this reading from St. Mark’s Gospel is somewhat controversial in that many of the Protestant and Evangelical apologists take the term “and his brothers” to mean his familial or biological brothers. The Church teaches that Mary bore only one child – Jesus. responding to this scripture, Catholic scripture scholars teach that “…in Semitic usage, the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf Genesis 14:16Genesis 29:15Leviticus 10:4.”
 
Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those who, as those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe; telling those gathered that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
 
CCC: Mk 3:22 548, 574; Mk 3:27 539; Mk 3:29 1864; Mk 3:31-35 500
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Reflection:
 
The Lord came, was sent, became incarnate so that we might have life, even in the face of rejection and persecution.  If one were looking for a sound-bite that incapsulated the scripture message for this solemn feast, that would be it. 
 
Genesis tell us the reason it was so necessary.  The serpent (a analogy for the fallen angel, Satan) has, according to her, tricked Eve.  She and her husband, Adam, have, as a consequence, been driven from paradise.  Their act of disobedience exposes the trap of “free will” and insures the downfall of all of their ancestors.  The gates of heaven are sealed shut, and for countless generations an eternal life with the Father is denied.  The enmity placed between the serpent and Eve’s children is analogous to all pain and strife that follows them into the world.  
 
The great lament of the Hebrew people is captured by St. Paul as he speaks to the persecuted community at Corinth of their (and our) rescue from hopelessness in Jesus, who came so those long-locked gates of heaven could be once more thrown open by his perfect sacrifice.
 
In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has come home.  It might have been expected that his homecoming would be a joyous one.  He was recognized as a miracle worker and teacher – outside of hometown.  The people he grew up with, even though they must have seen his entire family as pious and holy people, had heard the outlandish stories about him and clearly thought he was mentally ill.  They were reading to lock him up or worse.
 
What a perfect example of how we can expect to be treated if we demonstrate our wholehearted conversion within our secular environment.  St. Paul’s message should resonate with us, but reading about how Jesus own extended family was upset at his activity, we find the reality of living our faith with vigor in a society that does not share our values requires perhaps more courage than we can demonstrate.
 
That is the paradox of our faith wrapped up in a package.  We are called to be apart from the world, but to live in the world.  When we are safe within our faith community and (hopefully) our domestic church – our home- it is easy.  We can pray, making the sign of the Cross without getting glares.  We can speak of Jesus’ openly without fear of being labeled as a hate-group.  But once we leave our homes or church, it becomes challenging.  The values central to our faith (which a few years ago were also shared by society as a whole) are now considered elitist, old-fashioned, and even counter-cultural.  Acting on these principles can even get us sued or thrown in jail.
 
Oh, the Gospel was clearly a harbinger of things to come.  And our Lord has asked us to stay strong and follow him.  That is the real test of our faith.  Can we persevere in the face of bigotry and hatred?  Can we stay true to the Gospel we have been given?  Our prayer today is that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and our brothers and sisters in faith, we can share St. Paul’s encouragement: “…we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
 
Pax


[1] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014.
[2] The picture is ““The Fall of Man” by Carlo Cignani, c. 1700
[4] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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