10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Today’s readings remind us that if circumstances make us choose between God’s will and our family, as painful as it may be, we have to choose God’s will.

In today’s First Reading Adam is busted. He put more trust in Eve than in God and Fell. Sacred Scripture does not say Eve duped Adam. She offered him the forbidden fruit and he let doubt about the Lord enter into his heart and sinned. When Adam says it was the woman “whom you put here with me” it’s almost as if he’s accusing the Lord himself of putting him into this situation. Eve tries to pin all the blame on the serpent, but she is an adult, responsible for her own actions. Sin may appear at times as the way to salvage or consolidate a relationship, but it always drives us wedge between us and between us and God. Today’s First Reading shows us that those cracks may not appear at first, but they’re not long in coming.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us God’s will is not that we should choose between him and our family, but that our family should be united in faith. The Lord wants us to do his will because it is good and because it will be a source of abundant blessings for all people of good will. As believers we’re called to share one spirit of faith in Our Lord and in his promise of eternal life. Our Lord acts for our benefit, not against it, and he wants his grace to fill us so much that it “spills out” into grace for more and more people. When we’re faced with the difficulties, frailties, and uncertainty of a Fallen world we must not lose our trust in the Lord and in his promises. Ultimately that spirit of faith is our openness and collaboration with the Holy Spirit.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord encourages us to focus on doing his Father’s will as something good. If we question the motives of God’s actions—Father, Son, or Holy Spirit—trouble awaits. Today’s Gospel invites us to imagine what was going through the mind of Our Lord’s family when news began to reach them of everything happening in his ministry: healings, people mobbing him from all over Palestine, non-stop work that didn’t even leave him time to eat, and an escape by boat as the only way to keep the crowds from flocking around him and following him constantly.

Today’s Gospel says simply that he “came home”; it’s not clear whether he’d come to his house or not, but the mention of the family’s reaction might infer it, although the Gospel only says they heard of what he was doing. The reaction of Our Lord’s family serves to underscore the apparent insanity of the situation, so much that they’re wondering whether Jesus himself is insane. The reaction on the part of the people may seem disproportionate, but it also shows how lost and in need of truth and healing humanity was since the Fall. Since Adam and Eve, all the way to the coming of Our Lord, all generations were lost, and now, in the crazy world that resulted, Our Lord has come to find the lost.

Today’s Gospel is also a strong admonition regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. An unforgivable sin should give pause to anyone, but in this case Saint Mark explains what the Lord is condemning: calling the Holy Spirit an “unclean spirit.” Jesus works his miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, but the scribes claim the demon Beelzebub is powering his works. A clearer blasphemy is not possible. If we see God’s will as bad, we see him as bad, and that’s not good. That is a sin, just like Adam and Eve at the start of salvation history, and we must reconcile with God and reconcile with his will for us and for all those we love.

Don’t shift the blame to Our Lord this week for anything in your life that is not going as you’d like. Adam and Eve tried to shift the blame for their faults to others. If we accept the blame for what we’ve done the path to reconciliation and peace is opened. The worst tactic is pinning the blame on Our Lord for our sins or the sins of others that have affected us. Our Lord detests sin as much as we do and more. Let’s put the blame where blame is due: on sin.

Readings: Genesis 3:9–15; Psalm 130:1–8; 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1; Mark 3:20–35.

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

Paul reminds us in today’s First Reading that with the Incarnation of Christ our humanity, as fragile and weak as it is, has been entrusted with a true treasure: the grace of God. When we consider the strength and glory of Our Lord, we see how fragile his humanity is, yet Paul reminds us, as Our Lord has shown us, that we may be down at times, but never defeated.

Paul, in imitation of Christ, “dies” each day so that we may live. Our mortality is our fragility, but we know, in the end, that death will not have the last word.

We shouldn’t be discouraged when living the demands of Christianity. Christians have accomplished the most not at the high points of their lives, but at the low ones, just as Our Lord did on the Cross.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:7–15; Psalm 116:10–11, 15–18; Matthew 5:27–32. See also 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II.

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10th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

The story of Elisha’s calling to be a prophet in today’s First Reading reminds us that a vocation in the family means sacrifice for everyone involved, but it is a spiritual blessing. Elisha wants to make one last gesture of material concern for his family before answering God’s call through Elijah’s invitation: by “burning his bridges” through the destruction of his yoke and oxen he is providing materially for them one last time, but that doesn’t mean the Lord will not watch over them for their sacrifice.

When the Lord calls someone to follow him in the priesthood or consecrated life the family doesn’t become irrelevant. That vocation is a gift and sacrifice from the whole family, and a source of blessings. Many a Mother with tears of pride has thought of the day when she’ll meet her Maker and be welcomed as the parent of a priest or religious.

If our loved ones are happy and blessed, we are happy and blessed. Let’s help them follow the Lord in whatever he invites them to do.

Readings: 1 Kings 19:19–21; Psalm 16:1b–2a, 5, 7–10; Matthew 5:33–37. See also 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.


10th Week of Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us that chastity starts in the heart. The eyes are the windows to our soul, and if we start ogling and fantasizing a radical response is needed if we are to preserve our chastity and keep our hearts pure, since no one can intervene regarding the hidden desires of the heart except ourselves.

A highly sexualized culture should not provoke our surrender, but our vigilance. The key to living chastity of heart is to form the habit of de-sexualizing what we perceive, and knowing our weakness when this is impossible. The object of desire in front of us is someone’s sibling, spouse, or parent; by de-objectifying them they are perceived as persons again who deserve the same esteem and respect we’d expect for ourselves.

Let’s ask Our Lord today for a greater purity of heart.

Readings: 1 Kings 19:9a, 11–16; Psalm 27:7–9c, 13–14; Matthew 5:27–32.

10th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that charity matters just as much as justice does. We’re easy to anger when we feel someone has wronged us, but it is exactly in those moments where we should strive not to fall into rash condemnations. It’s no coincidence that we begin each celebration of the Eucharist with a Penitential Act for what we’ve done, and exchange a sign of peace before we receive Holy Communion. We may still be upset, but if we have the inner disposition of trying to forgive or seek forgiveness it’ll give us a deeper peace, a peace that can be nourished by receiving the Eucharist into reconciliation.

Our Lord today also invites us to consider the other’s position when we’ve been wronged or have wronged. We need to put ourselves on “test trial” to see how right we really are, and how wrong the other might actually be. It may be a moment of humility where we realize that maybe we weren’t as entitled to what we thought, or might be overreacting to a slight that was more imagined that real.

Let’s ask Our Lord for the meekness and humility that helps make charity matter in our lives.

Readings: 1 Kings 18:41–46; Psalm 65:10–13; Matthew 5:20–26. See also 1st Week of Lent, Friday and 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.