10th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – June 10, 2018

This Sunday’s Theme: Evil to be Conquered.

In Reading 1, and the Responsorial Psalm we hear about God’s rescue of us from our sinfulness. In Reading 2 we hear about God’s rescue of us from our physical maladies. The Gospel identifies Original Sin and the unpardonable sin.

Reading 1 – Genesis 3:9 – 15     Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 130:1 – 8     The Lord’s Kindness.

Reading 2 – 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1      We believe and so we speak.

Gospel –  Mark 3:20–35     Victory in Christ.

Reading 1     Genesis 3:9–15             (The Garden of Eden)

Context – The Book of Genesis (Greek for “origin”) records the creation of the world and our first parents, and the origin of sin; the history of mankind from the time of Noah; the Flood; the tower of Babel; the confusion of languages. The author then turns to the descendants of Shem, the eldest (firstborn) son of Noah, and deals with the greatest of these descendants, Abraham, the father of the chosen people. Then follows the history of Abraham’s son Isaac, of Esau’s forfeiture of his birthright blessing, and the succession of Jacob. Jacob’s fortunes are next related in detail. Lastly, the personal history of Joseph is told, and the migration of his father Jacob (Israel) and his brethren into the land of Egypt.
Today’s Reading –  The early chapters of the Book of Genesis have much to teach us about why things are as they are today from the effects of Original Sin. Today’s first reading tells us of the goings on immediately after Eve, and then Adam, ate the fruit of the forbidden tree (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience has resulted in the following consequences:
1. Rift in their relationship with God. When God comes looking for Adam and Eve, they hide. In their sinful state they become afraid of God.
2. Rift in their relationship between each other. When questioned by God about their sin, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. Rather than taking responsibility for their sin, they blame someone else. This is the first story of the ‘blame-game’ so familiar in our society.

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”[i] He answered, “I heard You in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.”[ii] Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked?[iii] 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.”[iv] 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.”[v]

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.”

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Catechism 411 – The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because He “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam. Furthermore, many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium (see NOTE, below) as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.  (Aside – In the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary has her foot on the head of Satan.)
Note – Protoevangelium is defined as God’s statement to the serpent in the Garden of Eden about how the seed (i.e. Jesus) of the woman (i.e. Mary) would crush the serpent’s head. This predicts the defeat of evil by the victory of Jesus Christ and is the first promise or ‘gospel’ of the coming Redeemer. This is referred to as the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament (Protoevangelium – The word “proto” means first and “evangelium” means the evangelistic message of salvation.).

Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 130:1–8                                (The Lord’s Kindness)

Today’s Psalm – The responsive verse of this psalm is “With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption,” which echoes God’s saving grace for Adam and Eve and their descendants (i.e. us). This is one of the Seven Penitential Psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143).
During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow, and ask for God’s forgiveness.

R. – 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. 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.

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 

Reading 2     2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1                      (Eternal Glory)

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after the establishment of this Church, trouble arose including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. Paul’s pastoral guidance was needed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from falling prey to false prophets.
Today’s Reading –  Paul’s words should encourage all of us who are experiencing some decay in our body. The strength of Paul’s faith, especially in the Resurrection, prevents him from being discouraged by his weakening body. “A life full of crosses, labors, persecutions, injuries, etc., Paul calls momentary and light, if compared with the eternal, immense, and incomprehensible glory prepared for us.” (St. Augustine)

Brothers and sisters: Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke (Psalm 116:10), we too believe and therefore we speak[vi], 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.[vii]

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 

 Gospel     Mark 3:20–35                                            (Victory in Christ)

Context –  St. Mark’s Gospel was the first written of the Gospels contained in the New Testament. The date of writing was prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. St. Peter was Mark’s primary source of information about the life of Jesus. Mark is primarily known by his Roman name “Mark” but is sometimes called by his Jewish name “John” in other New Testament Writings. He was a cousin to Barnabas and  an associate of St. Paul. Recognizing Jesus as the divine Son of God is the goal of this gospel. And it was written to encourage Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith. It begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Today’s Reading –  This gospel is an example of the literary technique used by Mark known as the “Marcan sandwich.” He begins a story, then interrupts the storyline with another story and thereafter returns to the original story.
Jesus’ family believes that He is “out of His mind”. They are upset with Him. His unpopularity with the religious leaders of the day is causing problems for them. Hence, they come to take Him home and get Him out of the public scene. Sandwiched between this opening and the final scenes, which also has to do with His family (where Jesus talks about “who are My Mother, brothers and sisters”.), there is a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. They claim that His miraculous powers come from Satan. Jesus responds with two parables. First, He asks them to ponder how a house divided against itself could possibly stand. The second parable is about a strong man being tied up and his house plundered.

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 (a pagan god identified with Satan),” 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.[viii] 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[ix], 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.”[x] 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[xi] are outside asking for You.” But He said to them in reply, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”[xii] 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.”

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          RE. – In explaining the reference to Jesus’ driving out Beelzebul, the prince of demons, their “strong man” –  Wasn’t David’s defeat of the entire Philistines due to his first defeating their strong man, Goliath?

Catechism 1864 – “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven humankind, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept His mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of their sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

 With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

From out of the depths, I cry unto you, Lord, hear my voice, come hear my prayer;
O let your ear be open to my pleading.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, then who could stand within your sight?
But in you is found forgiveness for our failings.
Just as those who wait for the morning light, even more I long for the Lord, my God,
whose word to me shall ever be my comfort.

ADDENDUM – Original Sin

Catechism 404 –  How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all humankind are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all humankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.

[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“Where are you?” = Isn’t God omnipotent? Doesn’t He know everything? Yes, He is, and yes, He does – what He is doing is telling Adam that He knows something is wrong and He is inviting Adam to tell Him about it. The question really is “Where are you, Adam, in your relationship to Me?” It is always God who issues the invitation to confess our sins to Him – He does it with a little nudge of the conscience. God knows all our sins, but He wants us to verbalize them so that we are sure that we know what they are.
[ii] “I was afraid because I was naked” = Adam recognized that he was lacking something – it’s not clothing he is lacking, it’s God’s grace that he knew he was lacking since he had sinned, and he was afraid. Exactly what we should feel when we sin.
[iii] “Who told you that you were naked?” = Since they are the only two humans in all of creation at this time there was no one else to tell them that they were naked, God is pointing out that it is Adam’s conscience which has pointed out his sin. This tells us that we are all born with a basic conscience. CCC 1776 – “Deep within our conscience we discover a law which we have not laid upon our self but which we must obey. Its voice, ever calling us to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in our heart at the right moment. . . . For we have in our heart a law inscribed by God. . . . Our conscience is our most secret core and our sanctuary. There we are alone with God whose voice echoes in our depths.” “We are naturally moral beings, but our environments can enhance—or, sadly, degrade—this innate moral sense.” (Msgr. Charles Pope – Community In Mission)
[iv] Adam blames Eve for his sin after God questioned him. = Why does God approach the man first? After all, the woman was the first to eat (Genesis 3:6). Before God made the woman, He had put the man in the garden to work it and to keep it (Genesis 2:15). The Hebrew word (shammar) translated as “keep” can also be translated as “guard” (keep safe). After this commission to “keep” the Garden of Eden, then God commands the man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he was to guard the garden, he must guard everything and everyone in it, including his companion; and there must be something to guard against. The man failed to keep the serpent from invading the Garden and influencing his wife and himself.
[v] Eve says to God – “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” = The command not to eat had been given to the man before the woman was created. The man had instructed the woman, but she did not heed his direction but chose instead to listen to the serpent. She had chosen the serpent over her husband – a form of adultery. Remember that the Bible is all about covenant – family. She ate with the serpent rather than with her husband.
[vi] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“we believe and therefore we speak” = Our inner conviction about the truth must result in our outward confession of that truth.
[vii] “our earthly dwelling, a tent” = As a tentmaker, Paul compared the human body to a tent. Jesus referred to His body as a temple, and He predicted that God would raise it up. Since God had raised up Jesus’ “temple,” Paul believed that He would also raise our “tents.” In ancient times a tent was a familiar symbol of what was transitory. Our physical bodies are only temporary structures, but God is preparing new bodies for us that are superior to anything that human hands can produce and maintain.
[viii] Gospel Footnotes:
“a house divided cannot stand” = Jesus pointed out that it was illogical for Him to cast out Satan’s agents if He was one of Satan’s agents, as the scribes claimed Him to be (i.e. being possessed by Beelzebul). Satan would then be working against himself. Our current polarization is another example of a “house divided” – polarization within our country, our Church, our neighborhood, and on critical issues such as immigration, refugees, health care, gun control, and civility. And as Jesus said, “this type of house cannot stand”. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (Martin Luther King)
[ix] “Amen, I say to you” = Jesus’ use of ‘Amen’ to introduce and endorse His own words is without analogy in the whole of Jewish literature and in the remainder of the NT. ‘Amen’ denotes that His words are reliable and true because He is totally committed to do and speak the will of God. As such, the Amen-formulation is not only a highly significant characteristic of Jesus’ speech, but a Christological affirmation: Jesus is the true witness of God.”
[x] “guilty of an everlasting sin” = Jesus is referring here to the Scribes and Pharisees who could not be forgiven while they refused, through their pride, to ask for forgiveness of their sins and thus acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior. They attributed the power of Jesus’ exorcisms to Satan rather than to the Holy Spirit. They blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy is a type of sin, namely, speech that is hostile, malicious, injurious, and derogatory of God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. This was the type of sin the scribes were committing.
[xi] “Jesus’ brothers and sisters” = We understand these to be the relatives of Mary and Joseph. (St. Bede)
[xii] “Jesus’ Mother and relatives are outside asking for Him” = Our Lord does not refuse to go outside to them through any form of inattention, especially to His Mother. He wishes hereby, to teach us the preference we should give to the business of our heavenly Father, before that of our earthly parents. Neither does He consider His brethren as beneath His attention but prefers spiritual before temporal duties. And He shows us, that a religious union of hearts and feelings is far more lasting, and better rooted than any other ties of affinity or friendship whatsoever. (St. Bede)