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Tenth Sunday – Year B – Ordinary Time
Readings: Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13 – 5:1; Mk 3:20-35.
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I
we too believe and therefore we speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed,
we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,”
and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“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.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “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.”
THEME: All temptations of the three enemies
Human life is like a battlefield with the three dangerous enemies: the devils, the world and the flesh. The faithfuls need to be awake and cautious by practicing virtues, praying incessantly and frequently receiving sacraments to fight against these three enemies. Today readings help us to recognize them and their sophisticated temptations.
In the first reading, the first couple of human beings felt into the snake’s temptation, the symbol of Satan; because Eve wanted to be like God. She disobeyed God and ate the forbidden tree so that she could have the wisdom to know good or bad without God’s instruction. In the second reading, in opposite with the Hellenistic conception who insult the human body so that they are free to sin against their flesh; St. Paul recognized the value of human body for salvation. God wants people to use their body which God created to work, to sacrifice and to endure sufferings for the proclamation of the Good News to all people. In the Gospel, some of worldly people couldn’t understand Jesus’ mission so they regarded Jesus as loosing his mind and as the one being possessed by Beelzebul, the leader of all devils.
1/ First reading:The devil’s temptation
1.1/ Adam and Eve felt into the devil’s temptation:
When people obey God, their relationship with God and with others are good; but when they disobey God, these relationships become bad, intense, avoiding and accusing each other. Right after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve avoided God by hiding themselves under bushels of the Garden; not to walk freely with God as before. This is the first damage of sin: It causes people to distance themselves from God and to approach the devil.
The second damage is their relationship no longer good as before. Adam has the freedom, he could use it to reject Eve’s offering of the fruit. To find an excuse for his sin, he accused his wife tempted him and insinuatedly to God who created and gave Eve to him. And Eve, she recognized the cause of sin is the snake’s temptation who tricked her into eating.
1.2/ The punishments of sins:
To sin is to have its consequences: The snake got the heaviest result of God’s judgment. God said, “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.”
Adam and Eve must also the results of their disobedience: Adam must work hard for his living and Eve must obey her husband and to endure the birthpang.
However, God already has a plan to save them from death through the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ, His only Son, when He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
2/ The second reading:The temptation of the flesh
2.1/ The value of human body:
Many of the Greek’s philosophers consider human body as a prison to confine human soul in it, so they must find the way to liberate their immortal soul out of their mortal body. Some of them go further by permitting people to use their body for immoral activities because it brings no benefit for people.
St. Paul vigorously fighted against this concept. He believed God creates the human body for a purpose. It is for salvation that He permitted His Son to incarnate in a human body so that He can use His body as an instrument to suffer and to die for people’s sins as said in the first reading.
Imitating Christ, Paul also wanted to use his body to sacrifice and to endure sufferings to bring the Good News to all people so that they can obtain the salvation. Moreover, human body is also used as an instrument to increase the faith and the love in God. He explained, “Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
In other words, we cannot use our body to sin; but must use it to sacrifice and to endure sufferings to bring salvation for ourselves and others.
2.2/ Human body shall be glorified as Jesus’ resurrected body
To Paul, the human body not only has a value in this present world but also in the future world. However, two structures of human body are different. He said, “For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” In other passage he explained: “42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:42-45). And St. Paul concluded: We shall be glorious as Jesus’ resurrected body.
3/ Gospel: The wordly temptation
3.1/ Jesus’ love for human beings:
St. Mark reported Jesus’ love for people in one sentence, “Jesus came home with his disciples. Again, the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.” The reason for this to happen is because He loves people so much. If Jesus didn’t want this to happen, He only needs to cease healings or to avoid people by going to a dessert place. But Jesus’ love for people put Him into this situation and He is still happy and to serve people willingly.
But Jesus’ family couldn’t understand what Jesus had done for people because they weren’t in love. They couldn’t understand Jesus’ love for His Father and His people. To them, the life which Jesus is living is unusual and failure because:
(1) He had to wander everywhere, no fixed career or work. To them, a person must have a house to live and a fixed income to live.
(2) He made friends with poor and uneducated people. To them, he should make friends with educated and powerful people.
(3) He must constantly be confronted with the power of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the elders who have the power in the society. To them, to do such a thing is to buy a death for himself.
3.2/ They accused Jesus being possessed by Beelzebul and using the devil’s power to extinguished devils. Jesus answered their two accusations as follows:
(1) Being possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons: Beelzebul is translated to Syriac from the Hebrew’s word Baalzebub. In the Synoptic Gospel, this world is used to indicate the prince of demons, Satan. The term is used here and in Mt 10:25; but not popular as Satan. Jesus used the “excluded the third” argument: “a thing can’t be yes or no at the same time.” This implies Satan can’t be a demon and not be a demon at the same time. This means Jesus can’t be identified with Satan because He always opposes him. He comes to destroy him and to liberate people from the sins caused by Satan and his companions.
(2) By the prince of demons’ power to destroy demons: In any nation, the one who has the most power is the king. If a person from other country wants to maltreat a person in that nation, he must confront the king’s power. Jesus also gave a similar example, “no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder the house.” In the same way, Satan is the prince who controls all demons. If Jesus destroyed his demons he must confront Satan’s power. Since Jesus has power over Satan so He didn’t fear even Satan, not only his companions. Therefore, the scribes’ accusation against Jesus has no foundation.
3.3/ People must love God above all things:
When one first reads today Gospel, one can’t avoid be upset with Jesus because He insulted His mother and brothers and didn’t keep the fourth commandment. Did Jesus violate this?
One of Jesus’ mission is to teach the truth and to correct the wrong. In this reading, Jesus didn’t go beyond the two most important commandments: First, to love God; second, to love people. Jesus wants to stress the order of these two commandments whish people often put them in a wrong order. The proclamation of the Good News which he is doing, shows the depth of His love for God, His Father. This task must be put above all other works. He can’t sacrifice His preaching to contact with His mother and brothers. However, when He is not busy with this task, He still cares for His mother as He gave His mother for John to care for her when He is on the cross.
To love God is to do Hiss will: The second lesson Jesus wanted to teach people in today reading is that the real love must be followed by action. People used to think they can show their love for God by attending the Mass or praying the Rosaries… These are good, but not important as to find out God’s will and to do it. Jesus’ life is the model for us to learn how to express our love for God: He incarnated to execute God’s plan of salvation for people. In his life on earth, doing God’s will is His primary concern and should also be for us (Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:40; Mt 26:42).
Jesus’ mothers and brothers are those who do God’s will: Jesus excludes all the reasons which people use to claim they are members of God’s relatives and only keeps one condition which is to listen and to practice God’s will. Of course, Mary His Mother and all His disciples are Jesus’ relatives because they always listen and do His will.
APPLICATIONS IN OUR LIFE:
– Our three enemies: the devils, the world and our flesh are three most dangerous enemies. We must be cautious and use God’s instruction and His grace to fight against them.
– Our flesh is dangerous because it is always within us. To fight against the flesh, we need to study the Summa Theologiae to understand how God created us, how all parts of the soul which are: the intellect, the will and the memory must control our body.
– To do God’s will is not only doing the magnificent works, but also by fulfilling the duties which God gives to us in our daily life. The duties of Jesus’ disciple are “to forsake our will, to carry our daily cross and to follow Him.”