June 10, 2018 — Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Feasts of May and June have been called a “liturgical love feast.” They should help us to realize the persistent love of God. On May 20, we received the Holy Spirit Who pours the love of God into our hearts. The following Sunday we celebrated the Blessed Trinity. On June 3, last week, we celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Out of love Christ gave us the gift of Himself. He is always available to us, ready to listen and ready to support.
This past Friday, we commemorated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the revelations of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus promised, “Sinners shall find My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy. I will console them in all their troubles.” What we hear in the Word at every Mass should be a source of inspiration and affirmation about the love of God toward us.
Adam and Eve were certainly aware of God’s love. In the First Reading from the Book of Genesis, when they “hear” that God is in the garden, they know full well that He wants to be with them. It is difficult for us to conceive of how intimate and close God was to that first couple. What made them “afraid” of God was sin, something that probably makes all of us afraid of the Lord at times. Ever since Adam we as humans have tended to run from God’s presence and we surely do not always wish to listen to His Word.
Nevertheless, we must always keep in mind that we are made in God’s image, so as fearful of Him as we may be, we still want to be in the presence of God. As we note in the reading, Adam tried to blame Eve for his sin. That is something we may tend to do as well — blame others for our sins and faults. In 2 Samuel, David declares, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Each of us has to consider taking that responsibility for our actions as David did.
St. Paul had a way with words to be sure. During Paul’s lifetime many felt his Paul’s life was a failure. At the height of his success in life, he chose to leave it for a career that from our perspective is much higher. We view St. Paul as the great evangelizer and the equivalent of an Apostle. Paul left a comfortable life for a life of hardship, suffering and persecution.
His message to us and to the Corinthians in this reading is that faith creates testimony. Paul believed deeply that God had a purpose in his, Paul’s, sufferings. Paul understood and embraced and truly believed in resurrection. Al the trials he faced, and all the trials we may face, are trivial in relationship to the life that is to come. Suffering can destroy us; they could have destroyed Paul. Paul recognized that we tend to see the outward, not necessarily the unseen eternal things. He speaks, nevertheless, of the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” That is where his focus was and where our focus needs to be — not the present but what is in our future.
President Abraham Lincoln is often given credit for saying “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” This was the theme of a speech he gave when he was nominated for the United States Senate in 1858. However, we see it in today’s Gospel Reading from St. Mark: “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Jesus is quoted as saying that in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
Lincoln was a man familiar with scripture, and he knew that Jesus said this. He also knew most likely that most of his audience knew that. Jesus gave this answer to the Pharisees in all three instances in the Bible, including today’s reading. It was a response the Lord made when accused of being the agent of Satan. It is a logical thought because we all know that any community, including our parish, which is divided will run into problems. Success and cohesion, whether in a family or in an organization or the Church itself, is reliant upon congruency.
We face this in many ways in daily life all the time. It does not matter whether it is a sports team, a government, a family, or our own minds things must work together in order to accomplish goals. God expects unity among believers because once conflict enters into the picture, the whole organization becomes weaker. That is part of what stewardship demands of us. There are times when each of us must place his or her personal preferences to the side for the good of the group. That is never easy to do, but to be the kind of community we wish to be and need to be it is absolutely necessary. Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Indeed!