Wednesday, 6 June 2018


For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's than man's wisdom' and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength,"   
(1 Cor. 2. 25)
Today’s Gospel is all about variations on the theme of identity. Firstly, that of Jesus and His family; secondly, His being the Son of God, doing His Father’s will, not Beelzebub’s assistant working for him.  Finally, the nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit.  I will try to show how all this affects our daily lives.
‘He’s out of His mind!’   That was how Jesus’ relatives reacted to Him when His home was so crowded they could not even have a meal.  But much worse, He had abandoned Joseph’s carpenter’s business, which provided security for Himself and His widowed mother.  He had become a wandering preacher, who had persuaded an assorted group of people to be as irresponsible as Him, to follow Him -God knows where!
As for His teaching, Jesus seemed to go out of His way to antagonise the Jewish religious leaders.  He presumed to argue that only He, not those religious scholars, knew the real meaning of God’s Law. Only He had the right to interpret it with authority.   Not surprisingly, that angered the Jewish religious authorities; not surprisingly they accused Jesus of working with Beelzebub, the prince of evil, rather than being the Son of the All-Holy God, doing His will.  So, to catch Jesus out and destroy His credibility as a man of God, they accused Him of being Beelzebub’s accomplice.  That was a stupid accusation!  If Jesus were working for Beelzebub He certainly wouldn’t strive to undermine him by casting out demons.
Today’s Gospel is about conflicts over Jesus’ identity. Firstly, His relatives didn’t appreciate who He was and what He was doing.   No wonder they wanted to talk some down-to-earth common sense into Him.  Rightly, they knew, that unless Jesus changed, the Jews would take violent steps to silence Him. Of course, Jesus knew that and would use His crucifixion to defeat evil, not be conquered by it.  When the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of working in the name of Beelzebub, rather than the name of God they committed the ‘sin against the Holy Spirit.’ If they didn’t repent, that would cut them off from the salvation which Jesus has won for us in His Father’s name.  But of course, no sin can be so great that the Holy Spirit can’t open the sinner’s mind and touch his heart, so that he repents and seeks Christ’s salvation, as happened with St. Paul on the Road to Damascus.
As for Jesus’ relatives, He says He’s got a new family, which was not based on physical blood ties.  Instead, membership depends on our hearing God’s word and doing it – on our being true followers, disciples, of Christ.  Far from belittling Mary’s physical motherhood, even more important than that, she was His greatest disciple.  She was the handmaid of the Lord.  Throughout her life that was her guiding principle, which would take her to the foot of the cross.  There she followed her Son. Though we can’t imitate Mary in her motherhood she does show us how to follow her Son.  He has established a New People of God -of those who are His loyal followers -rather than being the physical descendants of the Patriarch, Abraham, as were the Jews.
In these incidents Jesus has established not only His identity as man of God, not an agent of the devil, but also our identities, as members of His family of followers.   In  His new family He has broken the barriers which separate people, as St. Paul tells us, 
"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcision uncircumcision, barbarian. Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all,"  (Col. 3. 11).               
Now what about our life as members of this family?   Jesus disowns those who claim only a nodding acquaintance with Him. Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7.21).      Jesus, who came to do the will of His heavenly Father, and Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, show us what it means to hear God’s word and do it!
P.S.  Don’t be surprised if people think we Christians are mad. Even His relatives thought that of Jesus.  But He, and we, are following God’s wisdom, which challenges and transcends secular reason.
Isidore O.P.

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