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Homily for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13-51; Mark 3:20-35

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle June 9, 2024

When I first came to North Carolina my mother’s greatest worry was her fear that I would develop a “southern accent.” I assured her this would not happen. Visiting with my mother’s sister, my aunt Barbara and her husband Carl, I hung out with him, his brothers and a few friends who were cutting and bailing hay on their farm. After work we all sat on the porch drinking beers; that was until the beer ran out.

Someone needed to go to town and buy more, and since I was the only one who had a valid driving license, they sent me, along with a young man to give me directions. We rode along in silence until he asked me a question, “Are you kin of bar,” he said. “What,” I asked, and again he said, “Are you kin of bar?” I did not know what he was asking, and yet he asked again, “Are you kin of bar,” so I said “No.” He sat there with a puzzled look on his face. Only after we had returned to the farm and back on the porch drinking beers did it finally come into mind what he was asking, “Are you a kin, a relative of Barbara?” I never did answer his question, but I did learn what the word “kin” meant.

Now here we are, some fifty years after this story had happened, and the Scripture we have just heard asks us to explore our morality and faith during this very time in which we live. To help us understand the meaning of this Scripture we must recognize that their background comes from a time when people were in pursuit of living a life of honor, the avoidance of shame and the need for unity, for kinship. The First Reading tells the story of the first pair of humans and the very first sin against their Creator.

This is like being in court, where God presents questions to the defendant Adam. “Who told you that you were naked?” God asks Adam. This conversation is followed by Adam admitting he had eaten from the forbidden tree along with his excuse that it was this “woman” who had persuaded him to do so. As the interrogation turns to the woman, her response is short and direct. Her statement is the most honest answer to come forth in comparison to Adam’s shameful avoidance of responsibility, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” When the woman says this, she is not trying to pass the blame. In fact, she is only confirming what was said earlier in the story, “The serpent was created as the most cunning of all the wild animals that God had made.”

How can anyone blame the woman for being tricked by the smartest creature in the world? We should not spend our time focusing on the sin that was committed but instead upon the woman’s acceptance of her mistake, “I ate it,” she said, plainly acknowledging her fault.

The truth is, that in the beginning, God created all things to live in harmony in the peaceful garden, but in this story the unity between God, man and woman, and the most cunning of animals is broken. The punishment of the serpent puts even further distance between himself and the woman he has harmed, “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” God says, “between your offspring and hers.”

Paradise was lost when the bond of unity between all was broken, for people had simply forgotten that we belong to one another. Unity is at the heart of today’s Gospel, where people are thinking Jesus is, “Out of his mind,” to a story about how a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Like the garden scene from Genesis, things are upside down if one begins to mistake good for evil and identify what is evil for good.

This Gospel passage, however, ends with a whole new way of looking at the type of people we are or have become. “Looking around at those seated in a circle Jesus says, “for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” A new relationship is set in this culture of honor, shame and kinship. Jesus’ newly named disciples and all the gathered people, us included, are his new kin, as near to him as family.

Our readings for this Sunday do not invite us to dwell on the mystery of evil, nor to dwell too long on the mysterious snake figure that causes disunity, or on the unforgivable sin of slander against the Holy Spirit. Today’s readings are about the restorative goodness of doing the will of God. Those who believe and live out the Gospel will become a new family to each other, on par with one’s own kin. Now, long after our original broken kinship, doing God’s will allows us a path toward reunion.

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