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Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Father Mark, your pastor is away on a retreat. Retreats are used to recharge our spiritual battery or batteries. Before father left I asked him to pray for my personal intentions, which I wrote on apiece of paper for his reminder. And now I have this overwhelming task to write some inspirations for you in his stead. I make no apologies to begin with.

I remembered reading a novel by Henry Coray entitled; Son Of Tears: it is a fictional account of the life of St. Augustine of Hippo. He was a wayward son who refused to accept his mother’s Christian religion. Monica, his mother, “spent seventeen years shedding tears over his waywardness, begging God for his soul.” After a lifelong struggle against the Church, Augustine finally found Christ and eventually became bishop of Hippo in Egypt. Thanks to a mother’s tears.

Remember the words of Old Simeon to Mary.  Pointing to Jesus, he said: ““A painful sword will one day pierce your inner being, for your child will be rejected by many in Israel. (That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed)” (cf. Luke 2:35).

What comes to my mind is the liturgy of the word for today. Jesus is accused by His family and by Teachers of the Law: He is in trouble with His family who thinks, "He is out of his mind.” At the same time, He has some misunderstandings with the scribes who say, “He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons." (Mark 3:22). And that, "He has an unclean spirit" (Mark 3:30).

Jesus’ words to His mother and his brothers should not be misread to mean that He is being rude to them. In this gospel Mark is making a point about membership in the Kingdom of God. It is a common saying that “blood is thicker than water”. True! But will blood relationship qualify us for the Kingdom of God? If you say yes, then one could surmise that all of Jesus’ family members are safely in Heaven -because of their blood relationship to Jesus. I think this would be wishful thinking.

For Jesus, the qualification for membership in the Kingdom of heaven is different: "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:34-35). Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom is different in its qualification for membership and in its demands.

At Pentecost, Jesus give us the Holy Spirit. Today He says to us that the only thing that can shut us out of the Kingdom of God is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. An “everlasting sin” that will never have forgiveness. To be qualified for membership of the Kingdom is to accept the Holy Spirit and do the will of God. And what is the Will of God you might ask? “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).


Fr. Matthew