Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Springwood: Sunday 7th June 2015:
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST. YR B.
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
When Jesus’ family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”
In the Name of the One God, +Father, +Son and +Holy Spirit. Amen.
A chauvinistic husband and his godly wife were preparing to have breakfast when the wife asked, “why do I always have to make the coffee?”
The husband answered, “because you’re the wife, that’s your job.”
The wife replied, “well, the Bible doesn’t say it’s the woman’s job to make the coffee, it’s the man’s!”
Taken back by this, the husband demands to see where in the Bible it states that he should be the one to make the coffee.
“Well, here it is”, the godly woman replied, “Hebrews!”
A central theme of Mark’s Gospel is how Jesus’ hearers (especially the Twelve) fail to comprehend the deeper meaning of his words and actions. The wild charges made by the scribes and the apologies offered by his family in today’s Gospel indicate just how misunderstood Jesus was by those closest to him.
In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus’ family thinks he is mad and the religious leaders think Jesus is possessed by demons. The kingdom of God has come near but those who have watched Jesus grow up and those who have religiously guarded the commandments of God to the Jewish people, are now accusing Jesus of either being deranged or in the grip of Satan. What began as good news, has now, very quickly in the gospel of Mark, turned into bad news.
First, the Jesus who calls his disciples to be a united “house” and community is dismissed by his own “house” as “out of his mind.” Apologising for his exorbitant claims about himself and his challenging their most cherished traditions and revered institutions, his family attempts to bring Jesus home.
Second, the Jesus who cast out demons and cured the sick is charged with being possessed himself. The scribes cannot grasp the single-minded dedication of Jesus to the will of God without the “filters” of their interpretations and direction; hence, he must be an agent of Satan, the prince of demons. (Remember that whatever the people of Gospel Palestine could not understand or explain was considered the work of “demons.”)
Third, the Jesus who comes to be a vehicle of unity among God’s people calls on his hearers to be united in faith and spirit in him in seeking God’s will in all things. The Gospel Jesus destroys the barriers created by race, culture, wealth and social status. He speaks of a new, united human family: the family of God.
Jesus the “lunatic” comes to heal us of what is, in fact, our own “lunacy” -- the lunacy of allowing pettiness, pride, anger, prejudice, and self-centeredness to alienate us from one another, the lunacy” of exalting “me” at the expense of others’ basic necessities, the lunacy of constantly grabbing as much as we can as fast as we can while many on this planet have nothing.
Sometimes we act out of a self-centeredness that is of “Satan” and not out of the compassionate spirit of the Gospel Jesus — and, without fail, the “house” we have built on a foundation of self-centeredness collapses in anger and hurt.
If a house that is a real home is to stand, it must be constructed out of forgiveness, humility, and generosity; to build it of “cheaper” materials, to compromise the integrity of the structure by placing one’s own interest over that of the family is to invite disaster.
Jesus’ life is testimony to the reality that the “power” of “Beelzebub” cannot heal or restore or re-create — only the Spirit of God can bring about such transformation.
Jesus comes as the means of unity among God’s people, to reconcile humanity to God and to one another, to instill a deeper understanding and appreciation of our sacred dignity as being made in God’s image. We are called, as the Church of the new covenant, to seek in every person the humanity we all share that comes from God, the Father of all and the Giver of everything that is good.