Jun. 9, 2018

Tenth Sunday, 2018

IF ONLY WE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

Readings: 1st- Gen. 3:9-15; 2nd- 2 Cor. 4:13-5:1; Gospel- Mk. 3:20-35

The first reading of this Sunday presents us with the story of the fall. Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. They play into the hands of the serpent. Having eaten the fruit, God confronts them. The first question for Adam is, “Adam, where are you? Adam gave a surprising answer, “I heard you in the garden, but I was afraid, because I was naked”. As if that was the first time he heard God in the garden, or as if that was the first time he was naked. Something has gone wrong and Adam has just scored his first “F” in God’s Geography class.

Then God shows that he is still interested in them. He knows they are struggling against the serpent, one of His smart creatures. God does not abandon them. Rather, he gives them opportunity to own up their action, to take responsibility for their faults.

What happens next? God wants to find out the cause of their dysfunction. He asks again, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat” This time, each of them deflects responsibility, shifts blame. Adam blames God for giving him the woman and responds: “The woman whom you put here with me- she gave me the fruit, and so I ate it”. Oops! Is that so? I’m wondering how shocked God will be at this answer.

But wait till you hear from Eve. Maybe the woman will save the situation. Then God asks Eve, “Why did you do such a thing?” “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” That response would blow God off. No wonder he doesn’t go further to ask the serpent, “Why did you do that?” Perhaps the blame game will incriminate all that God has created. Immediately, He calls the serpent out and pronounces the punishment for the crime they all committed.

The response by Adam and Eve places before us the consequences of seeking autonomy. Adam feels insecure, is afraid. He is ashamed but tries to justify his actions. He blames the woman for giving him the fruit, and blames God for giving him the woman. Eve deflects responsibility by blaming the serpent for giving her the fruit. Mr. Serpent is ready to deflect as well. God pronounces punishment on all of them. They lose the garden and return to labor and sweat. They corrupt their relationship with God, their relationship with one another, and their relationship with every other creature. The serpent will crawl on its belly, will be enemy to the woman and her offspring. The woman will labor in bearing her child. The man will till the soil and sweat to eat. The outcomes of the fall are many: “humiliation, conflict, domination, subordination, suffering, and struggle,” just because Adam and Eve failed to take responsibility for their action. They failed to say SORRY.

In the gospel, there is a controversy about Jesus’ authority. The Jews accuse him of being possessed by “Beelzebul”. As his family members arrive looking for him, there is a plan by the Scribes to make him look bad. That passage demonstrates that Satan is still in action. He is constantly seeking to ruin our homes. Saint Peter warns us thus, “Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

The devil continues to kick against the family in today’s world. The serpent destroyed Adam and Eve’s family in the Old Testament leading to the fall. Look at what happens in today’s gospel. The Jews insinuate against Jesus’ authority before his family. They accuse him of being possessed by the devil. His relatives begin to believe in such rumor, and are buying into the narrative. They say of him, “He is out of his mind.”

Do you realize that the goal here is to divide Jesus’ family? Jesus is aware of that and warns, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mk. 3:24-25).

We really need to watch how the devil creeps into our families. The devil is smart and knows the right spots to touch. He comes with attractions. He incites someone with interesting offers. He throws out his dice into the marriage bond. He whispers to the husband or the wife, “Did God really tell you not to eat from the fruit of the trees in the garden?” (Gen. 3:3) We might ask ourselves the question, “What are those trees in the middle of the garden that God forbade not to touch?” They symbolize the treasures of your relationship; those things that once distorted could make you “naked”, expose you to ridicule and shame. The devil wants to touch your commitments to each other. The devil wants to touch your love. The devil wants to touch your fidelity. The devil wants to touch your obedience. The devil wants to touch your humility. The devil wants to touch your sincerity. The devil wants to touch your service to God.

The devil is out to destroy the bedrock of the family life. He pitches family members against one another. He makes everyone shift blame for wrongdoing. “My husband isn’t providing enough care.” “My wife is selfish.” “My husband is uncaring.” “My wife isn’t home all the time.” “My children are all against me.” “My mother in-law is overbearing and intrusive.” There is always a blame for someone for your action. When will you accept responsibility and say, “I am sorry”.

If Adam and Eve had accepted responsibility before God, maybe humanity would have been enjoying the beautiful Garden of Eden. God surely would reprimand them and let them know the best way to avoid the serpent. But they didn’t. They only shifted blame. In the New Testament, God has brought forgiveness and salvation through Christ. He gives us the opportunity to accept our mistakes and to move on. Please learn to say sorry to your husband when you offend him. Learn to say sorry to your wife when you’re at fault. Learn to say sorry to your family members that you offend. Look at yourself first, not at what the other sibling is doing wrongly.

Once you recognize your offense and say sorry, then you say sorry to God. That’s the benefit of the sacrament of penance. God doesn’t kill you for your sins. Rather you kill yourself by not acknowledging them. He can only accompany you to overcome once you sincerely open up to him. He gives you forgiveness.

Jesus says, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk. 3:35). God’s will is that we take responsibility for our actions and and live a happy family and married life.