Homily 10th Sunday OT 9th June 2024

Homily 10th Sunday OT 9th June 2024

Everyone’s life is full of moral decisions. That includes Jesus. By the time today’s event in St Mark’s Gospel took place, Jesus and his disciples were so inundated by people that they couldn’t even eat. Jesus’ relatives seeing it, said that he was out of his mind. So opposition was coming not only from those outside but his own family, who were close!

Jesus’ moral choices could have given his relatives reasons for thinking as they did. Before all this, he hadn’t only made the decision to leave home, but also to leave the woodworking business in Nazareth. That had brought in money weekly, now, as a wondering preacher, he had no place to lay his head. He had also seen it as morally necessary to put himself on a collision course with the leaders of the people. It would have been better to stay on their good side, if you wanted to get things done, people believed then as they believe now: you have to have clout to force the powerful to listen. Besides, this little group that Jesus had stated didn’t look very impressive, some fishermen, a reformed tax collector, a nationalist fanatic, and others of like ilk.

So Jesus was, turning his back on what makes people tick. Whereas most people want a job and money coming in, Jesus was throwing material security away. Whereas most people like to play it safe, he was taking a course that involved moral considerations and risk. And, whereas for most people the voice of their neighbours speaks louder than the voice of God and they are concerned to as. “What will people say?”, he cared little for the verdict of society.

Substantiating his relative’s criticism were the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, probably in an official capacity to investigate this as yet unknown man from Nazareth. They couldn’t deny the reality of his cares, so they claimed he was possessed. They attributed to Jesus a sort of black magic whereby he was expelling little demons by the great demon. Words like theirs, once spoken, are bullets let fly.

Although truth has endurance, a lie has speed. The scribe’s report was of a kind to turn even people of good will from Jesus. Jesus’ answering argument made eminent sense: The power of evil would certainly not allow itself to be divided. Because that way lay sure defeat. Put another way, said Jesus, anyone wanting to plunder another’s house must first tie the owner up.

Jesus went on to put good and evil under still another perspective. No matter what evil that people do, and no matter what blasphemies or calamities they utter – whether against God or other people – God will forgive, with one exception, that exception is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Here, it’s attributing God’s miracles to demonic action. To thus call evil good and good evil is a complete inversion of all moral values. The moral wreck who commits it has no sense of sin. Such a person, conscious of no sin, can’t repent; and while unable to love, he can’t reach out for forgiveness, nor can he receive forgiveness.

Today’s reading from the book of Genesis provides an example of moral immaturity, where as St Paul demonstrates maturity in the second reading.

Accused of insecurity and selfishness, he doesn’t blame anyone else for his possible faults and thus distance himself from God but achieves the highest level of maturity in having a spirit of faith.

Some of today’s conduct is as immature as anything done by Adam and Eve, the Corinthians, and the Gospel scribes. Nowadays, blame is more common than harmony, judgment than reconciliation. Church members may blame each other – conservatives blame liberals, liberals-conservatives, parishioners their priest, priests their parishioners, and so on. Often these actions are simply ways of coping with our own inadequacies by placing them on others.

Maturity means turning the mirrors of our childhood, which concentrated on ourselves, into windows which enable us to see other people. Breaking that down, maturity means many other things. Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle difference without violence. Maturity is patience, the willingness to pass up immediate pleasure in favour of long-term gain. Maturity is perseverance, the ability to stick with a situation in spite of discouraging setback. Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness, discomfort and defeat without collapse. Maturity is the bigness to say, “I was wrong”, when we were wrong and when we were right, resisting the satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.” Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow it through. Maturity means avoiding the alibi, keeping one’s word, and coming through in a crisis.

Maturity is the art of living in peace with what we can’t change, the courage to change what we know should be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Moral maturity gives radiance to our own person, it is the reason for respect and the grounds for veneration. The more maturity, the greater the person.

Fr Andrew