9 June 2024 – 10th Sunday

9 June 2024 – 10th Sunday (Year B)

Evil is too well documented to be dismissed as just a religious concept. It thrives precisely because many choose to ignore it. Like the psalmist, we recognise our complicity and seek forgiveness.

(1) Genesis 3:9-15

Adam and Eve were tempted and sinned. The consequences of their fall

The Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you? ” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? ” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done? ” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall 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 your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Responsorial: from Psalm 130

R./: With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication. (R./)

If you, O Lord, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered. (R./)

I trust in the Lord;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the Lord. (R./)

For with the Lord is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
and he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities. (R./)

(2) 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Paul looks forward to a permanent dwelling place instead of a temporary tent

But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture-“I believed, and so I spoke”-we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Gospel: Mark 3:20-35

Jesus was misjudged by his family and the scribes, but accepted by the ordinary people

Jesus went home with his disciples, and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went to restrain Jesus, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast 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, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers? ” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


Overcoming evil

A thread running through today’s readings is about the threat of evil in human existence. The Genesis text deals with the origin of evil — it comes both from outside man (as the Serpent-Tempter) and also from within. The human condition with its experience of disharmony in human relationships and in our relationship with God is presented as a fall from the ideal, and this disharmony which is the essence of evil, is the result of sin.

The homilist might develop the notion of evil from contemporary examples — e. g. of political and social discord fragmenting societies with oppression and violent revolution, disharmony in family life, and the resulting chain reaction of bitter responses. Just as in the case of Adam and Eve, sin is never a private affair; it always has social implications, for others are affected.

On this theme of disharmony the parable of Jesus takes on a resonance that was not originally intended; a house divided cannot stand. Equally we can see that a humanity radically divided and fighting against itself cannot survive, since our ingenious creativity has put so much destructive power in our hands. One of the paradoxes of the human situation seems to be that the more we develop our control over the world and the more good we are capable of producing, the more the possibilities for evil also proliferate. This is the Achilles heel, the radical flaw in the fallen human condition.

This ambiguity was hinted at in the Genesis text when it says: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Human achievements are so often flawed; we can build our towers to the heavens but they become a Babel of confusion and races. What hope is there then for us? The Gospel provides a way forward. What was hinted at in Genesis came to its full revelation in the ministry of Jesus, who worked to fully overcome the power and influence of evil. What he revealed in action was God’s power restoring creation — healing women and men and making them whole again. From here on our humankind is no longer left on its own in a hopeless struggle against evil. It is now possible for us to share in the new creation, if we belong to Christ.

Still, there is nothing overwhelming about the presence of God in Jesus, as we can see from the cynical reaction of the scribes to him. Pride, the desire to make oneself the arbiter of all that is good, motivates them to see in Jesus not the visible power of the Spirit of God, but a trick of the devil. What seemed to be good they could not deny but only reinterpret, in order to hold on to their own fixed position. Such a closed mentality merits the censure of Jesus; he reminds us that we must be ready to see God’s goodness in unexpected places. Our road back to the new creation involves true openness and humility. It is a journey that does not involve positions of guaranteed privilege. Even the blood relatives of Jesus have no special standing in the kingdom. To belong to Jesus is equally open to all; the only condition is our readiness to commit oneself to doing the Father’s will. This was the commitment that Adam and Eve failed to make but which is opened up to us in Christ.

Man’s Inhumanity To Man

In a celebrated speech, a former President of the US, Ronald Reagan, describe Soviet Russia as the “empire of evil.” How uncomplicated life would be if evil could be so geographically defined! This formula had all the simple charm of an old Western movie with its classical conflict between the good guys and the bad guys. That the system of government in the Soviet Bloc was corrupt was widely known. Writers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago) had fleshed out its operation with spine-chilling detail. Other courageous dissidents such as Vaclav Havel and Andrei Sakharov added further witness. With the arrival of Glasnost and the sudden collapse of the Iron Curtain, more of the evil that permeated the system has come to light. But we should not leave this movie, cheered that the good guys had triumphed. There is little cause for anybody, least of all an American President, to rub his hands gleefully at the demise of communist totalitarianism. Evil is not that easily routed. The serpent raises its ugly head elsewhere.

Satan is alive and well, not far from the White House itself, ravaging the streets of Washington with crack and cocaine. The old maxims are often vindicated by events. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We can also recall the Shakespearean maxim: “The evil men do lives after them.” What never ceases to astonish about a Nazi Germany or a Stalinist Russia, or the promoters of an “Arab Spring” is how so many people, by all appearance simple, decent and well-motivated’, can be got to connive at evil.

Another maxim is worth remembering: “For evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke).Too many people are content look the other way, while refugees throng in camps or are sent back to places of destruction. Yeats once wrote, graphically, “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/ The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.”

It has become fashionable in our time to reject the doctrine of original sin, which, the catechism said, left us “prone to evil.” But in myriad ways our daily newspapers confirm this doctrine. Four times each day, morning, midday, evening and night, newscasters chronicle in words and pictures the spectacle of man’s inhumanity to man. Through our mass-media, no generation was ever better informed than ours of the effects of original sin. We can think of many spectacular examples. Our own sins may be less newsworthy but nonetheless deadly. The psalmist speaks for all of us. “If you, 0 Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness:For this we revere you.”


  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Faith makes us see the unseen!!

    Testimony: One of my Catholic friends asked, “My non-Catholic Christian friend quoted the scripture, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you”. They asked me, “Jesus had brothers and sisters. But then why do you honour Mary as Virgin Mother Mary?”
    Answer: When our Lord Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, He could not find any of His own blood brothers and sisters. Since He had none, He had to urgently allocate the task of taking care of His Mother to His beloved disciple only. Otherwise He would have asked His blood related brother or sister to take care of Mamma Mary. Being the Only Son of Mamma Mary, He did not have that choice. So He asked His disciple to take care of His own Mother.

    Some people were always trying to find fault with our Lord Jesus all the time. Some were jealous of His fame, some were jealous of His power while some where afraid of losing their power because of our Lord Jesus. So all the time there were people wounding our Lord with their harsh words. Sometimes the same happens for all our priests and nuns. But how did our Lord Jesus overcome this harshness? He courageously explained to them. No one could stand our Lord’s questions or answers.
    Similarly, all the Apostles faced opposition when trying to preach the Gospel. We read that our Saints also had the same experiences. So we should boldly face the opposition and live the beautiful plan which our Almighty Father had crafted for us. If our Lord allows us to enter the furnace, He will keep us safe in there and bring us out of the furnace without the smell of smoke.

    Even when all people are good, due to human weakness there will be a lack of understanding leading to misinterpretation of good intentions. For example, in the “Story of a Soul”, when Little Thérèse of Child Jesus was a novice mistress, she had corrected a novice. The novice felt that Little Thérèse is finding fault with her in spite of her being filled with the best intentions. Little Thérèse prayed in her cell for this novice. The next day the novice searched for Little Thérèse and said, “I was very sad because you were finding fault with me. But then I felt that you were praying for me. God gave me the clarity to understand your correction”.
    Jesus can explain more clearly than us. So let us pray to Him for giving clarity to our oppositions.

    Faith makes us see the unseen as described by the Apostle Paul in today’s second reading. Faith makes us see what we cannot see with our human eyes. Paul suffered more than what we would have suffered. But since his eyes were fixed on the realities of Heaven rather than the realities of earth, his sufferings couldn’t shake him. His sufferings made him only happy. He offered all his sufferings with the sufferings of our Lord Jesus to our Almighty Father. All our difficulties make us advance a step towards God.

    Testimony: One of my friends couldn’t conceive for five years after marriage, so underwent fertility treatment for the next 7 years. Since it was not working out for her, she adopted a baby boy. Then she was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and came out successfully. By this time her little son was around 4 years old. The son was identified with a learning disability. Meanwhile, due to the prolonged treatment, she was suffering from physical pain. She was the source of joy to her family members in spite of rough rides and pains. When asked how come she was happy when she was still suffering, “I offer all my pains to my sweet Jesus suffering on the cross. I do not know how my Jesus is using my sufferings, but I certainly know that He is using my sufferings for saving at least a few people. I know my Jesus is working on my problems. He will relieve me from my pains too.” Certainly as this friend believed, she got cured from pain and her son came out with flying colours in his school exams.
    This friend is able to see the unseen. When her physical body was wasting away, her soul was blooming!!

    Faith will make us live by the unseen rather than by what we see!!

  2. Paddy Ferry says:

    It was difficult not to be struck by a certain incongruity at Mass yesterday. On the one hand we pray in the Confiteor—as we always do to “…Blessed Mary, ever Virgin…” and then we heard in the Gospel reading from the Gospel of St. Mark of Jesus’ mother and brothers and sisters. They had come to take charge of Jesus, convinced he was out of his mind.

    Now, I knew of Jesus’ brothers — notably James who became leader of the new movement in Jerusalem — and a sister whose name I cannot now recall. But now, Mark has informed us — well, me anyway — that there was more than one sister.

    I am reading a wonderful book at the moment, “The God We Never Knew” by the the great scholar, the late Marcus Borg who co-wrote a number of marvellous books with the Nenagh man, John Dominic Crossan.
    He describes how his faith developed from childhood acceptance of everything he was taught about Jesus and God through a rebellious and critical teenage phase and finally the mature faith of his 30s which became his lifelong faith.
    He describes how at seminary — he was an American Lutheran — he learned from his professors and the readings they assigned that “Jesus was almost certainly not born of a virgin ….”

    I am wondering if our church is the only Christian denomination that still holds the virgin birth as a fundamental teaching — Joe?

  3. Dermot Quigley says:

    The lateran Synod in 649, under Pope Martin I, taught “Holy Mary, ever-virgin and immaculate Conceived really and truly of the Holy Ghost. She gave birth to Christ without corruption to her Virginity. Her Virginity remained equally inviolate after his birth”.

    The same was taught by Pope Paul IV.
    St Augustine puts it quite simply “Virgo concepit, Virgo peperit, Virgo permansit”. (A Virgin Conceived, a Virgin bore, a Virgin remained).
    This is a de Fide Dogma.

    For a detailed treatment of this, please refer to the late Fr. Ludwig Ott’s ‘Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma ‘.

  4. Joe O'Leary says:

    Most theologians seem to fall back on a default position: the story of the Virgin Birth is theological (pointing to the unique holiness of Christ) and not a literal biological report. https://www.faith-theology.com/2005/12/born-of-virgin.html

    Rowan Williams says somewhere that it is good for us to believe in the Virgin Birth. In the scene of the Annunciation the Holy Spirit is more emphasized than an actual virginal conception. Embracing St Luke’s literarily and theologically rich portrait of Mary at that moment are we not paying sufficient homage to the doctrine?

    Luke 1:31 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
    32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
    and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
    33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
    and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
    34 And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her,
    “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
    therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
    the Son of God.

  5. Joe O'Leary says:

    The Catechism unrolls the doctrine and all its support at length:

    496. From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed.” The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:

    You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.

    497. The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit,” said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. The Church sees here the fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”

    498. People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection:

    “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.”

    Mary – “ever-virgin”

    499. The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it” (LG, 57), and so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.”

    500. Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-35; 6:3; I Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19). The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus,” are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary” (Mt 13:55; 28:1; cf. Mt 27:56). They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression (cf. Gen 13:8; 14:16; 29:15; etc.).

    501. Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save:

    The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love (Lumen Gentium, 63).

    Mary’s virginal motherhood in God’s plan

    502. The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.

    503. Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father.

    He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed. . . He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures (Council of Friuli ~ 796).

    504. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven” (I Cor 15:45, 47). From his conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God “gives him the Spirit without measure” (Jn 3:34). From “his fullness” as the head of redeemed humanity “we have all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16).

    505. By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. “How can this be?” Participation in the divine life arises “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”. The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit’s gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God is fulfilled perfectly in Mary’s virginal motherhood.

    506. Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith “unadulterated by any doubt”, and of her undivided gift of herself to God’s will. It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Saviour: “Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ” (St. Augustine, De virg. 3: PL 40, 398).

    507. At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church:

    The Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse (Lumen Gentium, 64).

    1. Paddy Ferry says:

      Joe@5, thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this with us, excellent as always.

      Of course, it doesn’t make any indent into my sense of incredulity with regard to this particular teaching.

      There was a survey — last year, I think — of what Irish Catholics actually believed and much was made of the finding that only 10% believed in the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
      I wonder if belief in the Virgin Birth was part of the survey and what the findings were.

      And then, of course, there was another individual, Octavian, also referred to as Saviour of the world, God incarnate and son of God, who lived in the same geographical area as Jesus and in the same era who was also conceived, we are told, by divine intervention, the Greek God, Apollo though his mother — Atia — was not to be “ever Virgin”.

      It was only last Sunday and listening to that first reading from Genesis that I realised that the forbidden fruit was actually a metaphor, can you believe that! That took me a long time!!
      My wife, Fiona was very amused by my lack of awareness.
      So, our unhealthy obsession with and misunderstanding of our God-given gift of human sexuality existed long before Augustine.
      Thank you, again, Joe.
      I am, at the moment on the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast on my way home to Donegal.

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