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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 9, 2024

Watch this homily! (Begins at 39:30)


    We have entered into what the Church calls Ordinary Time. But there was nothing ‘ordinary’ about those readings, was there! They were a collage – even a blur - of images and stories almost too many to track. We had Adam and Eve in their nakedness, we had the tree and the forbidden fruit, the sly serpent, Satan and the divided kingdom, the family of Jesus who thought he was out of his mind, the Scribes who thought he was possessed; we also had the sin against the Holy Spirit, and Jesus seeming to put-down his brothers, and even his mother. What to make of all that! And I didn’t even touch on the reading from Second Corinthians. I must confess that I found it almost too much to tackle!

     But out of that jumble of images and stories one thing did begin to emerge for me. It was family.

     Family. What is more wonderful than family? Yet what can be more challenging and sometimes more dysfunctional than family!

     It all started with Adam and Eve, the First Family, if you will. When all was going well, things couldn’t have been better. But when those two began to want more - as if being made in the image and likeness of God was not enough – when they began to want more, there was that ever-so-enticing, forbidden fruit that got plucked and eaten, and then dysfunction quickly reared its ugly head. Eve may have been the first to bite, but Adam was the first to blame, and then Eve passed on the blame to the wily serpent. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. More or less. And we, of course, are part of the history!

     And so are our families which, since Adam and Eve, are this inescapable and inextricable mixture of happiness and sadness, light and darkness, joy and sorrow. These are things each of us knows in our own families. There are no perfect families. Only good families, or families doing their best to be good. And there are struggling families, too, and hurting families, and broken families. And we can blame Eve for that, or Adam, or the serpent, or we can simply acknowledge free will, selfish human choices, and the reality of sin in a beautiful but broken world.

     Family. We commonly call the family that Jesus grew up in, the Holy Family. But in today’s reading from Mark’s gospel, some of his family came across as – not so holy – but (pardon the pun) wholly human! Jesus was absorbed - consumed - by his preaching and healing – so much so, that we’re told he didn’t even take time to stop and eat, and when his family heard about this, Mark tells us that “they set out to seize him.” Or, in another translation, to ‘take control of him.’ Strong words! And that wasn’t all: “He is out of his mind,” they said, convinced that Jesus had lost it. Not exactly family at its best, Right?!

     And it doesn’t end there. At the conclusion of the reading, when Jesus is told that his mother and his brothers are outside asking for him, he poses that very puzzling question: “who are my mother and my brothers?” and he then points to his circle of followers – the halt and the lame and the sinners he hangs out with – and he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers. (‘Here is my family.’) Whoever does the will of God is mother and sister and brother to me.”

     I admit that might sound like a put-down, but it is really not. What it is, is a strong statement – a very strong statement - about Christian discipleship. Jesus is saying that God’s kingdom, God’s reign, makes big demands on the personal commitments of a disciple, demands which will, at times, transcend even the strong, natural bonds of family.

     Family. Families don’t always get it right. I find it interesting that the family of Jesus, instead of focusing on all the people he was working overtime to heal and help, zeroed in on him and his sanity - or on what they perceived as his lack thereof. All they could think was that something must be wrong with him! Their line of thinking was: who in his right mind would be doing what Jesus is doing, and doing it with such passion and compassion, such utter self-forgetfulness, such selflessness? Who would put his own well-being at risk for no other reason than to be there for others? And their answer is: no one. So, Jesus must have lost his mind. Or even worse, he must be possessed by a demon, which was the conclusion of the Scribes and religious leaders.

      It’s clear that they failed to grasp who Jesus was and what he was all about: that he was on fire with a mission that burned within him, a mission to make known the love and mercy of God, God’s immense compassion for suffering people, hurting people, broken people, people in need of healing and wholeness. And what could be more important than that? Not even one’s own family!

     My friends in Christ, if we take nothing more from today’s scriptures than a renewed awareness that we are – each of us - beloved of God – part of God’s family - and that Jesus, who literally wore himself out in reaching out to people in every kind of need - to the point that he was judged to be crazy – Jesus is still at work. He is at work in communities of faith like ours; he is at work in the Church and its powerful sacraments, including this Eucharist – this Eucharist. He is still at work bringing healing and hope for one reason only: because he loves us and, dare I say it, he’s crazy about us!

Father Michael G. Ryan





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