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Reflection on Mark 3:20 - 35 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

The Gospel before us is very much about the inner journey.  We are told ‘Jesus went home…’ and then we hear that ‘his relatives….set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.’  We live in a world of either or’s.  You are either with us or against us.  You are either a Crows supporter or a Port Power supporter.  You are either one of us or one of them. You either believe in God or you don’t believe in God.  You are a capitalist or a socialist.  There is no middle ground with this mind set.  When we go ‘home’ into our Hearts it can appear to those outside of us, that we are ‘out of our mind’ because of this either/or attitude we can hold so rigidly.  Jesus was certainly ‘out of his mind’ in the sense that he listened to his Heart and got ‘out of his mind’ and allowed his Heart to lead him.  What in reality was a gift, Jesus’ relatives saw it as a threat – he was thought to be no longer one of them.  So in their thinking he had totally lost the plot. He did not fit into their beliefs and they didn’t like it.

With the ‘scribes’ it is the same thing.  Jesus’ teachings were so radical and counter cultural he just didn’t fit into their either/or world of absolutes.  They couldn’t say that it was ‘through God that he cast out devils’ because this would shatter their either/or world to pieces when what Jesus taught was so radically different to what they proclaimed to believe.  So the scribes accuse him of working through satan.  So they played ‘satan’ against ‘satan’ and then again Jesus turned this on its head.  It is the ‘scribes’ who are ‘divided against themselves’.  Jesus has entered this world of either/ors and he knows this world must fall if we are to understand who Jesus is.  

In the sheer blindness and dividedness of the scribes they accuse the Spirit of Love as being of satan.  This is the blasphemy Jesus brings to our attention.  To rigidly stick to this and then turn around and repeatedly murder this Spirit of Love and not see it for what it is, Jesus tells us this will ‘never have forgiveness’.  How do we interpret this; ‘never have forgiveness’?  When we come to know this God as Love, this makes little sense to us surely?  Love begets Love.  But if there is no Love, St. Paul tells us we have nothing.  It appears the ‘scribes’ were unteachable at this moment and it is this dogged insistence on their own righteousness that can never know forgiveness.  It is not that forgiveness isn’t there to be given, but in this state, they refuse to receive it – it is they themselves who block receiving forgiveness.  But to have Love the size of a mustard seed is all that is needed, and it is in and through this Love that forgiveness is unconditional.  This is a stark and horrendous story really, but doesn’t Jesus teach us this mustard seed of Love is present within EVERYONE?  Jesus wants us to see that there is a real danger in a closed Heart that is fixated on its own righteousness and refuses to listen.  The ‘eternal sin’ Jesus speaks of is our rigid insistence in upholding this dualism, that divides everything and in doing so endeavours to divide and destroy Love itself. Every one of us are constantly being invited beyond this rigidity.

Then Jesus makes it very clear that ALL those who are faithful in Love, even if it is only the size of a mustard seed, that we are in Communion with Love – we are living within the family of Love.  ‘Anyone who does the will of God (that is to Love), that person is my brother and sister and mother….’

What is this Gospel trying to teach us today?  The dualism of the scribes is in all of us.  We cannot point the finger at others without first pointing it at ourselves.  We must be open to get ‘out of our mind’ and enter our Hearts.  We must examine our own either/ors and acknowledge our own areas of self-righteousness.  We can waste so much energy by rigidly remaining in our heads/minds when the invitation is to stop with all the head stuff, which is where our self-righteousness is rooted, and come into our Hearts.  In this place we will know vulnerability and initially that can be very uncomfortable.  So we are tempted to revert back to our head/mind, thinking that it will give us refuge.  This is a mistake.  Jesus is crying out to us to ‘come home’ – come follow me/follow Love – open your eyes and your Heart and see that I stand before you, within EVERYTHING.

This most important Gospel can be difficult to understand and to receive. Too often what is of God or Good we condemn – look at what many refugees worldwide are currently enduring and so many of us worldwide keep saying ‘you are not welcome here’.  And then we can think something is of God when it fact it can be a violent and often deadly assault on Love. For example: look at the Capitalist world that repeatedly denies the God of Love present before it when putting things like company shares first - increased profits first - exploitation of the Earth first - perks for the wealthy first…  All this while our planet painfully breathes heavily because of our exploitation of her in the name of economic growth -  where mental health issues continue to rise and create havoc - where education and health care are sacrificed – where the marginalised are ignored - where the elderly and the chronically ill are seen as past their economic use by date and a drain on the Capitalist purse, and then is it any wonder we are seeking out such things as euthanasia and assisted dying - where poorer countries are exploited and used to expand the wealth of already rich countries - where homelessness is increasing - where financial institutions are fleecing the little person in ways we never imagined could happen…..  Our relentlessness in pursuing what we think is good and dare we say, even of God, when in fact we are crucifying the God of Love (present in the whole of creation) standing right before us, over and over again, is a blindness we must ask for the Grace to be removed from our Hearts and minds.  Our adherence to Capitalism as we know it today, that is responsible for destroying the lives of so many, is not any different to what we see the scribes doing in today’s Gospel. How?  Because just like the scribes we do not see the Spirit of God/Love standing right in front of us.  

© Annemarie Reiner


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