10 June 201810 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
10 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
10 Ordinary Time
Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Exposing Ourselves as Christians

Today's readings present three incidents which are often discussed in religious circles. The first is the way that Adam was caught by God after he sinned. Adam said that he hid himself because he was naked. Whyâ??why was he embarrassed by his nakedness? The second incident is in the Gospel where Jesus said that all sins can be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Spirit. What are these? The third incident is also in the Gospel, the references to the mother and the brothers and sisters of the Lord. If Mary was always a virgin, then who were those brothers and sisters? Perhaps these three topics, the nakedness of Adam, the sin against the Holy Spirit, and the mother and brothers and sisters of the Lord, do not appear to be related. But they are if we consider these readings from the viewpoint of sincerity and living our faith. Adam's sin is revealed because he hides himself. In the beautiful anthropomorphic (God taking on the form of a human being) imagery of the creation stories, God looks for Adam in the Garden. Adam tells God that he hid because he was naked. This really is not about nudity. God created the body and therefore it is beautiful, not something that Adam had to hide from God. No, this is about being exposed before the Lord. Adam was revealed as proud. He wanted to be like God. Adam was self centered. His desires were more important than God's will. He was disobedient. God could not tell him what he could or could not do. Then, at the fall, Adam recognized what he was really like, proud, self centered and disobedient. He was exposed before God. He was naked. He hid himself. Even during God's questioning, Adam refused to take the blame for his actions. According to Adam, it was Eve's fault. Adam even notes that God was responsible for creating Eve. Adam's nakedness was even further revealed. It is sad, but we can look into the depths of Adam's nakedness and see our own refusal to submit to God's will as well as our own rationalization for the things we do wrong. The scribes in the Gospel were also exposed for whom they were.

The scribes were people who used religion for their own ends. They were not spiritual. They accused Jesus' good works as coming from the devil. Refusing to see the holiness of the Lord is the sin against the Holy Spirit. This is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. God cannot forgive someone who believes that God does not have the power to forgive him. If there was anything spiritual at all about the scribes, they would at least have recognized some form of goodness in Jesus' works. But there was nothing spiritual about them. In the same reading Jesus is not afraid to expose himself for whom he was. His family thought that he had to be out of his mind to take on the scribes and leaders of the Jews. That was a quick way to death. Why would Jesus do this? Jesus was not afraid to say what he believed, to do what had to be done. Jesus' family is presented here as coming to try to dissuade Jesus from his public action. This phrase, since it also mentions the mother and brothers of Jesus, is often taken out of context, particularly by non-Catholics who use this as a basis to argue about the virginity of Mary. In the context of scripture, Jesus' family, and that's all, his family, are presented as concerned that he was getting himself into trouble. A common person had to be crazy to take on the intelligentia of the nation. Jesus was not afraid to expose himself for who he was. If revealing himself, exposing himself meant death, then he would die sot he world might experience the presence of God. St. Paul paraphrases Psalm 116 in today's second reading when he says, we believe and so we speak out. This is what Jesus did. That is what Christians must do. Our actions must expose our commitment to the Kingdom of God. We have to speak out in the face of evil. That is the reason why our bishops are not afraid to take which may not be popular, but which are moral. If we don't stand up for morality, for the truth, then we would not be faithful to whom we are, or at least whom we are trying to become. Like Adam, we all stand naked before the Lord. Do we have to hide ourselves, or do we want the Lord to see us exactly as we are? Today we pray that our spirit and our actions may be exposed as actions of people committed to the Kingdom of God.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
10 Ordinary Time
Something Different (June 10, 2018)

Bottom line: Begin with gratitude; end with gratitude. Last Sunday I mentioned I would do something different this summer. Here's what I propose: To give a series of homilies based on the second reading. Let me explain. You may have noticed how each Sunday we three Bible readings: First from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, followed by a Psalm; second a New Testament reading from a letter of Paul, James or Peter; third a selection from the Gospel. The Gospel takes primacy because it recounts the teachings and miracles of Jesus as well as his passion, death and resurrection. For that reason a priest or deacon usually preaches on the Gospel - using the Old Testament reading to show the broader context. For example, today we hear about Jesus overthrowing Satan. Well, how did Satan get into the driver's seat? The Old Testament readings describes Satan deceiving our Mother Eve and bringing calamity on the human race. So it's logical for a preacher to focus on the Gospel. The second reading gets sidelined. Although understandable, we lose some of the riches of God's Word. This summer we have sequential readings from two important letters: Second Corinthians and Ephesians. These communities matter a lot to St. Paul. He spent eighteen months in Corinth and three years in Ephesus. The letters have a message that will help us grow in faith and in our relationship with Jesus. For Paul Jesus means everything. A young man with impressive achievement as a zealous Jewish scholar, he meets Jesus and all that changes.

What he valued before seems like so much ashes in comparison. Or to put it more exactly - all previous learning matters only in so far as it relates to Jesus. Paul is a coherent man, a man of integrity in a world of empty show. We'll see that as we study and pray over Second Corinthians and Ephesians. Today we hear a recurring theme: thanksgiving - gratitude for grace. Grace means God's free gift of himself. That gratitude keeps Paul from getting discouraged. He's grateful even in afflictions - and Paul had plenty. He'll give us a short list this summer. These affliction, says Paul, produce an eternal weight of glory. He speaks about how when the earthly dwelling is destroyed - when our bodies are folded up like a tent - we have an eternal dwelling in heaven. This does not mean to look down on our bodies. No, because of Jesus' resurrection we place value on the human body - even after death. That's why the Catholic Church desires each Christian to have a funeral with body present. In the case of cremation I encourage the family to have the body present for the funeral. I've actually loaned my casket to families for a loved one's funeral. Three families have taken me up: Maggie Beatte, Sheila Ascherl and most recently Kurt Biderbost. I would be happy to have others use it before I take up permanent residence.

In this life our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit through baptism. They receive the anointing oil of confirmation and the sacrament of the sick. Jesus nourishes our bodies with his Body and Blood - the Eucharist. So Paul says that even though our outer self wastes away, God renews our inner self. Our bodies rely on a very complex code called DNA. It defines us. Just so you and I have an inner self that determines what we will become on the day of the resurrection. Our outer self, says Paul, is wasting away while our inner self is being renewed day by day. There's more to come on this. Next week we'll see what it means to walk by faith, not by sight - and why faith is the best guide. For today let's take up that word of gratitude. The afflictions we suffer can bring inner renewal. Begin with gratitude; end with gratitude. The goal of our summer, to quote Paul, is to allow "thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
10 Ordinary Time
10th Sunday of the Year,
Modern Lectionary 89

Today marks the first time the Church will celebrate a Sunday of "ordinary time" since February 11th, almost four months ago. In the meantime, of course, we have observed the seasons of Lent and Easter, and then at the conclusion of the Easter season we celebrated three other great feasts on Sundays: Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi. Following these celebrations the Church now settles into the long ecclesial summertime that leads us back to the beginning of the next liturgical year, which begins this year on December 2nd, the first Sunday of Advent. While it may seems as though the first reading today from Genesis is therefore a natural place to start our post-Easter reflections?beginning at the beginning?it is actually a coincidence, since the Old Testament readings for ordinary time cover a wide range of topics and historical eras before we hear from Genesis on this tenth Sunday of the season. The focus of the Church is much more intent and systematic on the gospel, and that brings us to the third chapter of Mark where Jesus has been preaching the Kingdom, healing many who were sick, and casting out demons. Jesus has been exercising his ministry in the region around his home base of Capernaum, along the Sea of Galilee.

Just as he relaxes briefly in the home he used another large crowd arrived including scribes from Jerusalem who assert: "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons" (Mark 3:22). These charges sound grasping and even jealous: his enemies are themselves so amazed by what Jesus has been doing that they cannot possibly deny his power; they are reduced, rather, to claiming that his power has a sinister origin. This refusal to see the hand of God at work in Jesus is the fatal mistake that will lead to their condemnation, and that will be the factor determining whether generations of people even to the present day find salvation or condemnation in him. Jesus himself explains this immediately after he is accused of being in league with evil: he asks rhetorically, "How can Satan drive out Satan?...if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him" (Mark 3:23, 26). In other words, anyone should be able to see that those who act against evil cannot be in alliance with evil at the same time?thus the scribes? accusation that Jesus was casting out demons by the prince of demons was ridiculous. Seeing how his actions were badly misinterpreted by his enemies, Jesus emphasizes what it takes to be his true and faithful disciple: those who attribute his teaching and power to unclean sources have closed themselves off forever from his goodness, but those who hear his word and keep it, even if their efforts are imperfect, are the ones who find in him life, forgiveness, renewal, and redemption. As the Lord himself taught so forcefully: "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?" (Mark 3:34-35). As we forge into the summertime of the Church year let it be our resolve to turn away from the pattern of sin forecast in Genesis and exemplified by the scribes in the gospel, so that with all God?s holy people we might be numbered among the sisters and brothers of the Lord, saying always with the Psalmist: "With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption" (Ps 130:7). Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
10 Ordinary Time
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel text set before us today is a difficult one. It doesn't come up very often in the liturgy because the Tenth Sunday is often missed out due to the particular timing of Lent in any given year. Let us look at two problems that arise within it. First comes the attitude of Jesus' family and secondly the so-called sin against the Holy Spirit. Jesus family come to take him away because, as it says in the text, they thought that he was 'out of his mind.' The particular reason for this incident is because there were so many people come to listen to Jesus that he and his disciples could not even eat. So it seems that what we have here is a concern that Jesus is drawing too much attention to himself. The family don't like this, and in this they would be very much like families today or at any other time in history. Families don't generally appreciate it when one of their members makes an exhibition of themselves. Fundamentally what we see here is that some of the members of the family of Jesus did not understand him or accept his message, and it is for this reason that they decide he is 'out of his mind' and come to 'take charge of him.' This gives the opportunity to the teachers of the law to say that he is possessed. But Jesus trounces them in argument saying, 'how can Satan drive out Satan.' Later on in the text it mentions the mother and brothers of Jesus as being outside and them calling to him presumably wanting him to come home with them. This gives Jesus the opportunity to say, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' and then pointing to his listeners and saying, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.' I won't spend too much time on these so-called brothers of Jesus. The Catholic understanding in accordance with the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity has been that here we are dealing with an extended family and that these are in fact the cousins of Jesus. More complex is the attitude of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Does she think that he is mad?

Has she come to take him home? Well, the text does not actually say this. You must remember that these Gospel texts were cut and pasted together from many different oral accounts of the events they describe. Oftentimes fragments of text have been taken from one place and put in another where the Evangelist thought that they best fitted. In this text today there are two appearances of Jesus family. The first group clearly think he is mad and want to take him away. But when it comes to this second appearance they don't appear to be making any judgement, they are simply outside calling to him. Their presence gives Jesus the opportunity to stress the important bond that acceptance of the Gospel brings about between believers. Catholics have generally believed that Mary supported Jesus' ministry. We have the evidence from the Marriage Feast of Cana that she knew of his abilities and was not afraid to prompt him into action where she thought it necessary. She was also there at the foot of the Cross and again present on the Day of Pentecost. Given these things I do not believe that we can conclude that Mary thought that Jesus was 'out of his mind.' She may well have wanted him to come home; it is surely likely that she did not like him arguing fiercely with the teachers of the law. She was a woman at home in the Jewish religion of her day; she knew too that Jesus had come to circumvent the established order; but like any mother she probably did not like to see him in direct conflict with the established authorities.

So I would say that while some members of the family might have thought he was out of his mind we cannot conclude that Mary did so. We see that the text does not explicitly state this and there is plenty of other evidence that she was supportive of Jesus' ministry. Let us move on to this sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus here says cannot be forgiven. First of all the text is quite clear that what we are talking about is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. So not just any sin but the particular sin of blasphemy, in other words an explicit rejection of God. Catholic theology has always taught that God can forgive any sin. There is absolutely no limit to the forgiveness that God can give. Of course, in the end there does need to be repentance or at least sorrow for sin. And even given this requirement there are other factors that can come in to play such as ignorance. This would mean that a person would not be able to show sorrow for a sin that they did not believe was sinful. God would hardly hold their ignorance against them unless that ignorance was in some way deeply culpable.

Catholic writers, including Pope John Paul II, have stated that what we are dealing with here in this so-called blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit. If when approaching death we explicitly reject the salvation that Christ offers us then this would be unforgivable; given of course that this was a completely free act made in full knowledge of the meaning of what Christ offers and also in thorough knowledge of the consequences. In a way it is actually necessary for man to be able to completely reject the salvation offered to him by God otherwise there could be no true free will. God will not force his forgiveness on those who completely reject it given that they accept and fully understand what it is that they are doing. We are clearly talking about an extremely rare, but yet theoretically possible, set of circumstances. Surely anyone who knows the salvation that God offers them would definitely accept it. If their judgement is obscured or other circumstances blind them to what is involved then these are surely overcome by God who sees the depths of every human heart and who is all forgiving. Looking overall at the text today we see a condensation of quite a number of things: the popularity of Jesus; the opposition of the authorities; the fact that some people even those closest to him thought he was mad; the close bond between believers that acceptance of the Gospel brings; and finally the ultimate respect that God gives to man's free will. A few short verses but packed full of meaning and interest, and certainly a great deal of food for thought.

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