By Sister Karen M. Cavanagh, C.S.J.
WE BEGIN AND end this Sunday’s readings with “family.” We listen at the start to how God’s dream for that family has become, at best, compromised, and at worst, possibly rejected.
In the Gospel, we see Jesus’ Mother and His closest family fearing the worst for Him, and at best, finding His words and response so difficult to understand. Our Creator God chose from the first “let there be…” to move in a ceaseless love connection with all of creation. God’s dream is for all of creation to live and move in that love relationship and connection with God, with each other and with every other.
Two weeks ago, I attended the movie, “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word.” (Don’t miss it and its most profound message.) Our Holy Father reminds us that God seeks to journey with us, to “walk and talk” within the depths of our hearts, to cultivate the burden and blessing to be found in our life within this human family.
His recent apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), on the call to holiness in today’s world reminds us to live humbly in God’s presence and urges us to recognize in Whose constant love, grace and presence we are created and have our being.
In the Genesis reading, we enter our family story soon after our first parents have moved beyond all that they ever needed. Their garden was Paradise and they were surrounded with every good gift. We are their sons and daughters, and with them, recipients of that overwhelming gift of life.
The Lure of More
We, too, are called to care for life’s garden. How they – and we – care for that gift and our gardens will either cultivate them or ruin them. It’s that simple! They were lured by their desires for even more. We, their children, have learned that the lure of “more” messes with our judgement, blinds our vision, muddies our sense of responsibility and moves us to a crippling understanding of our purpose in life. We have been captivated by the “more” of power, wealth, freedom, self-interest at others’ expense, righteousness and indifference. We need to admit our sin and stop blaming Adam and Eve for our every sin.
Reflecting on this Genesis account, the Holy Father notes that the first words of God to the human family are from this same passage. God speaks it down the centuries and generations. God calls out to us this day: “Where are you?”
Sometimes I think God calls out even more: “What are you doing? Why are you hiding? Why are you blaming Adam, Eve, your past, your present, your brothers and sisters, your fifth-grade teacher, your mother, your community, neighbors or boss? Have you forgotten who you are? Have you forgotten Who I Am?”
The seducer always waits for the next opportunity to lure us into denial, apathy, irresponsibility or violence toward the garden of our lives or our hearts, toward neighbors or even our families. The liar known as fear will try to convince you and me that we are crazy, we are “out of our minds.” Fear did that to Jesus’ family. What makes us think we are exempt?
Fear tells us that there is nothing beyond this earthly dwelling. Fear tells us we are powerful on our own, that we do not need the power of the Spirit and that we can have it all.
But Jesus in the Gospel tells us that we are His family – His brother and sister and mother each and every time we do His will. We are His family. We are given and mandated a great and challenging command. The dream of God – for every one of us – is that we “live and move in a love relationship and connection with God, with each other and with every other.”
We are called to see no one as “other,” but as sister, brother, mother, family, called to such a relationship that no one is forgotten, excluded, left behind, shunned, expelled, hungry, naked, chained, lonely, ignorant, mocked, dismissed or labeled as not of God. Fear – that liar – waits for us to cave in and fall upon blaming to excuse our sin.
We know all too well the will of God. This “overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God” created us, formed us in our mothers’ wombs, gifted us with faith, family, foundations and a promise to “walk and talk with us” all the days of our lives.
Our God calls to us in life’s garden: “Where are you?” … “What are you doing?” … Why are you hiding?” … “Who told you that you were not loved?” … “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.”
Let us hold each other in prayer this week that we might carry the presence of Jesus to each other and every other. God bless you always and in all ways.
Readings for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 3: 9-15
Psalm 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1
Mark 3: 20-35
Sister Karen M. Cavanagh, C.S.J., a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator, is a pastoral associate/family minister at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.