[Genesis 3:9-15 Psalm 129; 2Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35]

We see in today’s scripture readings how the enemy, Satan, wants to divide, cause mistrust and put distance between us and God. In the first reading from Genesis, we hear how Adam and Eve admitted their offence to God and how they gave in to the serpent’s temptation. God, who of course knows everything, was already fully aware of what had happened. We can view God’s questions as a way of allowing Adam to take responsibility for his actions. Adam fails; he blames both the woman and God! The woman also fails to take responsibility, blaming the serpent. Time and again, God gives us the opportunity to take responsibility for our actions. How often do we fail?[1] Sometimes our first reaction to being challenged about something is to deflect the challenge with a counter challenge or suggesting it was someone or something else which ‘made me do it’. But God gave us free will, we make decisions; choosing what we do and what we do not do. Granted, sometimes those decisions are not very well thought out and are made on impulse, but we make decisions, nevertheless.

I can often act on impulse, fire off what I think is a witty remark or a retort in an argument that leaves someone else feeling hurt. I haven’t intended to hurt them, but my actions have hurt them. I need to become more aware of these times and learn to control these impulses and put more thought into the potential consequences of my actions for both me and the person I am interacting with.

In the second reading St Paul is reminding the Corinthians that the decay our body goes through as we age is symbolic of how our faith grows as we get older. We start to see less importance in trivial things, and we start to recognise what is really important; which is our relationship with God. St Paul tells us that the things which are visible will disappear and as we enter our eternal Glory the things which are invisible will last for ever; that is ‘our eternal home not made by human hands in heaven.

As we go through life, we are aware of people who seem to thrive on being part of a drama. Sometimes that person can be us. As we become more mature or when we remove ourselves from certain situations, we can see that the fuss and stresses involved in certain situations are not as important in hindsight, than what we thought they were, when we were in the middle of the situation. The really important thing in our life is to love. It is through love of God and love of others that we can find true happiness. This reading from St Paul today prompts me to consider what the temporary things in my life are, which are holding me back from achieving permanent joy in heaven? What are the things which cause me to stress, which are really not that important? Why do I get stressed in certain situations, snapping at those I love?

There are no quick answers for me to these questions, but thinking about them has reminded me of a homily I heard in Medjugorje a couple of years ago. The priest said that he often had people coming to him on confession complaining that they were always confessing the same sins. He said that the reason many of us find ourselves confessing the same, or similar sins time after time was that we were not going deep enough. He said that the sins were like the fruit of a plant and we just keep picking the fruit and thinking that we have dealt with the issue in confession. What we really need to do is to go deeper and get to the root of the plant and address what is behind the sins, what is it in us that has allowed the sin to take root and grow to the stage where we see this fruit and are able to recognise it for what it is. So going back to my original questions I will need to examine what it is in me that causes me to snap at those I love, what is it in me that allows a frustration to be displayed as a stress and why am I able to hide my stresses from some people and freely let them flow with others?

In the Gospel we hear the scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed and stating that Jesus casts devils out through the power of the devil. Jesus quite rightly refutes this accusation stating that a household divided against itself will fall.  Reminding me why it is so important that we as a church are united and find peace with others; as well as the world around us.  There is no logic to the scribes’ argument. Jesus turns this around and states that as they are accusing Jesus of having an unclean spirit within him then they are actually committing a sin which cannot be forgiven, accusing the Holy Spirit of being evil is an eternal sin.

Our Gospel passage finishes with good news for us all. Jesus states that if we carry out the will of God then we are His brothers and sisters and his mother. In effect Jesus is stating that if we follow Him and do the will of His Father then He will treat us as family. As we look around the church this Sunday, we can see other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to be companions to these fellow travellers on the road to our eternal home. The word companion is important. I was really struck recently to read that the word ‘companion’ means ‘one who breaks bread with another’.[2] We remember the disciples’ joy when they recognised Him in the breaking of the bread. Being a companion reduces the potential for loneliness, it gives us someone to share our burdens with and it helps us to stay close to the path which leads to God.

Who are your companions and when did you last check in on them?

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 410-412: the Protoevangelium
CCC 374-379: man in paradise
CCC 385-409: the fall
CCC 517, 550: Christ as exorcist

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by poor mental health or addictions.
  • The children in the Tadley & Burghfield Common communities who are still preparing for their First Holy Communion which will take place next week at St Michael’s Church in Tadley [16th June].
  • Those seeking election, that they have a genuine call to serve their community and that they back up any promises they make with their actions.
  • Those who are lonely and need companionship.
  • Ugonna who is being baptised at St Bede’s Church this Saturday.

Deacon Tony 8th June 2024

[1] 2024 Sourcebook – The Almanac for Pastoral Liturgy, [Liturgy Training Publication, Chicago, Il, 2023]234.

[2] Thomas N Hart, The Art of Christian Listening, [Paulist Press, New York, 1980]17.