Blame keeps us from partnering with Jesus

Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

By Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/June 10

Genesis 3:9-15; Psalm 130:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8; 2 Corinthians 4:13 — 5:1; Mark 3:20-35

The first reading in today’s Scriptures is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful and brilliant passages of the Bible. Every word helps illuminate the dilemma that humanity finds itself in regarding sin and evil.

The conversation between the Lord God and Adam is compelling. God simply asks the whereabouts of Adam. Adam tries to hide so that he will not be discovered in his choices. He also makes every excuse. But blaming is the culprit here. It is the classic description of sin — failure to take responsibility for his actions. It is the woman’s fault, then it is the snake’s fault.

In the Gospel, Jesus is accused of siding with evil. The scribes blame him for driving out demons by the prince of demons. His own family questions his veracity: “He is out of his mind.” Jesus very clearly and straightforwardly confronts the pointing of fingers: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 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. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.” (Mark 3: 23b-26)

Jesus’ own family, standing outside, voices reservation about the good Jesus is doing. Jesus’ response is to acknowledge those seated in the circle around him: “These are my brothers and sisters.” Those who join in Jesus’ mission, who are open to His words and actions, are the ones who are “brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3: 35)

The temptation to stand outside and point a finger keeps the disciple away from partnership with Jesus and his mission. As R. Rohr states: “Following Jesus is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. . . . Our vocation is a willingness to hold — and transform — the dark side of things instead of reacting against them, denying them, or projecting our anxiety elsewhere. . . . It is indeed a ‘suffering’ of reality which implies some degree of patience, humility, and forgiveness.” In the end it is to commit oneself to the inner circle of Jesus and do what Jesus did.

JESUS IS THE PROMISE

St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians describes our engagement in mortal struggle. He puts it in terms of “the outer self wasting away.” For Paul, the momentary affliction of struggle we face is no comparison to the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Jesus is the promise that the goodness of God is to be our final hope.

Evil and good. Sin and blamelessness. Accusation and forgiveness. All are the reality of the human condition. How we respond to them makes all the difference in whether we are sitting in the circle with Jesus or standing outside stuck in our own hardness of heart.

As Father Michael Simone, SJ, says, “The Son of God shares His driving strength with anyone who believes in Him and takes on his mission, no matter what their initial condition might be. This is the strength that allowed Jesus to overcome his own will in Gethsemane and thereby free those bound by Eden’s sin.”

If we truly join in Jesus’ mission, we will share as family together the overflowing glory of God.

Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB, is a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, and has served as a teacher, campus minister, and pastoral associate in the Diocese of Peoria.

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