Gospel & Reflection 9th June 2024

Gospel & Reflection For Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.’


Friends, some weeks ago I mentioned the late John Mortimer, Barrister and Author, most famous for creating the fictional character Rumpole of the Bailey. Mortimer was also the editor of ‘The Oxford Book of Villains’ – an anthology of extracts from many books containing some of the most memorable anti-heroes in fiction. In his introduction to that entertaining book, Mortimer explains: “The world may be short of many things – rain forests, great politicians, black rhinos, Saints, but the supply of villains is endless. In fact, if villainy had not existed, it would have been necessary for the creators of world literature to invent it!”

So, what sort of story would it be if there was no witch in ‘Snow White’ or no Professor Moriarity as Sherlock Holmes’ adversary? Could we imagine ‘Lord of the Rings’ without the dark lord Sauron or could children think of ‘Harry Potter’ with no Voldemort? If there was no Hannibal Lector, who would have frightened us in the pages of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’? But like all great works of literature, the Bible too has its fair share of villains – the only difference is the rogues of the Bible were and are, very real.

We meet the first, and worst of them, in the Book of Genesis: the serpent. Genesis, as we know is a written account of an oral history explaining our belief in God as Creator, and our emerging relationship with Him. We find the serpent seducing, beguiling, lying; his only interest is in leading others astray and he succeeds. When God asks the man “Where are You?”, He was not being suspicious or angry or asking for information. It was an invitation for the man and the woman to step out into the light and to stand before Him, for they were created in God’s image and likeness. But God’s invitation is met with silence and refusal. The couple had not reflected properly God’s image and work in their lives and the blame-game begins.

The man blames God: “It was the woman You put with me.” The woman accuses the serpent: “The serpent tempted me, and I ate.” They both were led astray, and they knew it, but they could not accept it. Their refusal of God and lack of any personal responsibility created what we call ‘sin.’ Interestingly, the words for ‘sin’ in Greek and Hebrew, the Bible’s original languages, basically mean ‘to miss the mark’ or ‘to fall short of a goal.’

The man and woman had sinned, they had fallen short in being images of God’s goodness and truth. They were too easily misled, dismissing all of what God had given and shown them. However, missing the mark, falling short of a goal, is as much a problem today as ever. God continually calls people, confronting us, asking “Where are you?” He asks people, especially people of faith, to stand out in the light of faith and truth and be seen and heard. The answer by some unfortunately, is as silent and empty as ever!

We sometimes seem to be marching backwards as a Church and as a believing people, retreating further and further, thinking we might find some safety in the shadows of a society that rejects Catholic faith and beliefs. Some people fear that their faith might work against them, that friends might think unkindly of them, that they might be seen as old-fashioned, phobic, or unenlightened. Many decide to stay silent about their faith, just in-case? How glad society would be, were we all to stay in the shadows, silent!

Yet, our calling is not to retreat but to advance fearlessly. We are asked to step out into the light and proudly answer to the name and voice of God; to live in the light of His truth and love, regardless of what others think or say. For the true believer, silence is not an option. It can be another sin. Maybe, the original sin! But Jesus faced the same challenges.

Many considered Him mad and uncontrollable, someone not with it. That pressure and criticism affected His family so much that they came to remove Him from the spotlight and bring Him back into the shadows and to the silence. They were wasting their time! The will of His Father came first and for that, He would never be silent, never be hidden, never found playing it safe. As for Christ, so hopefully for us all.

Friends, being a disciple, being Catholic, it is not for the faint of heart. It asks us to leap into the insanity that we are sometimes accused of, as Jesus was. It asks us to be daring enough to move away from a comfortable Christianity and live unashamed by our faith and its doctrines – uncomfortable as those teachings are for many.

The serpent enjoyed making people think they were comfortable, God rewarded those who lived up to His likeness. God still calls us all into His image and likeness, calling us all into His family, asking “Where are you?” Are we happy to be comfortable or do we step out and speak?

Fr. Richard