Today marks the first time the Church will celebrate a Sunday of “ordinary time” since February 11, almost four months ago.
In the meantime, we traveled through the seasons of Lent and Easter for 90 days until Pentecost after which we celebrated Trinity Sunday and last week the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Coming back to the green of ordinary time, is somewhat like coming home after a long journey. No matter how wonderful it may have been to be away, the saying, “there’s no place like home” really feels true. We’ll be home in ordinary time until a new Church year begins with Advent on December 2nd.
I would like to draw your attention to something else very ordinary: our parish bulletin. Along with our parish website, it is the source of most of our ordinary communication about what is happening in our parish family.
Even though we spend a good deal of time in preparing it each week, I have no illusion that everyone reads it. Yet it serves a good purpose – communication about what is happening.
I will give $20 to anyone who can tell me which advertiser uses this tag line in the bulletin: “Family is why we do it all.” Bill Brown, State Farm.
Family is the foundation of society and culture. Family is just as important today as it was in Jesus’ day, yet it looked quite different and had different ramifications for their ordinary, daily life.
For tribal societies of Jesus’ time, one’s extended family was the source of security and stability in a very precarious world where food could be scarce, health was fragile, disease and natural disasters were ever on the horizon. Life could be very unpredictable. Family was one’s safety net, savings and retirement plan.
Now back in ordinary time, we pick up Mark’s Gospel with Jesus’ family who have come to the conclusion that he’s gone crazy. Their evidence?
He’s gained fame as an exorcist and a healer who will touch women; he lays hands on lepers, eats with known sinners, proclaims forgiveness, disregards pious fasting practices and provokes the wrath of religious authorities by openly violating Sabbath restrictions.
He does all this while preaching repentance and announcing that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He is saying, “Wake up, take notice and discover the good news of God’s love.”
His extended family is savvy to the point of knowing that if one upsets the status quo, there will be social, religious and political consequences. Jesus doesn’t seem to realize this, at least from their perspective.
We also see this unfold with the exchange of the scribes accusing this itinerant healer and exorcist of being in league with the devil, Beelzebul, hoping to disgrace him and strip him of his followers. But it backfires.
Much like Adam and Eve’s hiding from God.
Adam and Eve, our first parents, the origin of the human family, the architype of humanity is like a child’s tale in which profound messages are hidden for the adults.
Have you ever wondered if, rather than hiding from God after they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam “manned-up”, looked God in the eye, admitted what he had done and taken responsibility?
What if Adam didn’t blame Eve and insinuate that it was God’s fault when he said, “The woman, whom you put here with me – gave me fruit from the tree.”
What if rather than hiding, blaming, accusing, dodging, Adam and Eve simply told the truth, said they were sorry and humbly asked for forgiveness?
Spouses, isn’t this a better way to be with and act toward one another?
Parents, isn’t this what you hope for from you children?
Family, isn’t this what we long for from one another when life beats us up?
Church, isn’t this what we are called to be for one another?
And yet, how foreign it seems in our present day, tweet driven, media saturated society today.
As a sinner and as a confessor, I know what power acknowledging my sin and asking for forgiveness has for me.
Yet as a sinner, I experience how difficult it can be for me to push through my shame, my guilty conscience, my wanting to avoid, cover up and rationalize away my sin.
It is only when I can honestly accept my actions and their consequences and am humble enough to ask for forgiveness, that I experience freedom from them and the promise of new life and renewal, a new beginning once again.
As a confessor, I have a miniscule taste of what God must feel when I can be an instrument of healing, hope and forgiveness allowing God’s infinite mercy to wash over my sister or brother who is before me.
So I wonder what God would have done if Adam didn’t hide and fessed up? How would God have responded? How might human history be different?
Maybe this can be something you discuss and pray about this week, as spouses and parents and family. How would your lives be different without the hiding, the blaming, the lying, the accusing, the judging, the gossiping, the fighting, the bickering in our homes, our schools, our offices, and our parish?
I close with this advice from the apostle of God’s mercy, St. Fautina:
“Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon you soul and ennobles it.
“Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul.
“When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.
“Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.’”
May Jesus’ words in the gospel today, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” invite us to be humble, honest and merciful this week and lead us to the sacrament of Reconciliation where the misery of our souls meet the God of mercy.