Gen. 3:8-15; Ps. 130; 2 Cor. 4:13—5:1; Mark 3:20-35
House, [W]e 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 (v. 1).
Modern translations of our Gospel accuse Jesus’ mother and siblings of coming to seize him, believing him mad; not so, rather those who thought him mad were “those around him” or better as the Vulgate, “his friends” (Mk. 3:21); now who would these be?
Likely candidates are Jesus’ Jewish disciples, perhaps even his newly appointed Apostles, of whom Judas Iscariot is described, “betrayer” (vv. 13-19). If mother and siblings are innocent of slandering son and brother; we ask, what was the problem for Jesus’ “Jewish friends and associates”?
Jesus gathered into his house in Capernaum (2:1), if not “righteous” synagogue Jews, a motley crew of sinners, prostitutes, tax-collectors and probably Gentiles to teach and feed (2:15, 16). The problem for Jesus’ “friends” was his intention of sharing his “bread” (3:20).
If today, “friends don’t let friends drink and drive”; Jewish “friends” didn’t allow friends to meal fellowship with sinners and Gentiles. In this way Jesus was exposing himself and perhaps his “friends” to legal prosecution from which the “friends” desired to protect their Lord.
Too late! The Jerusalem authorities, had been sent for to judge Jesus’ universal meal fellowship with followers. On arrival the scribes leveled an allegation of blasphemy against Jesus; a charge that, if convicted, carried the death sentence. Jesus successfully defended, mounting his “Stronger-Man/House Divided” argument.
Jesus counter-charged the judges of sinning against the Holy Spirit for their specious allegation, a greater blaspheme. The scribes were driven out of town and Jesus’ house returned to order.
Only then did Jesus’ mother, brothers, and sisters arrive, no doubt from Nazareth (v. 31) to support of son and brother under attack. Jesus neither condemns “family nor friends”; rather St. Mark draws our attention to the Gospel point, offering Jesus’ nuclear family a foil outside “his house”, directing us to his true family inside “his house” (vv. 32-35).
In this “Time of The Church” we focus on the Christology of Ecclesiology, on the family of God; the Baptized into Jesus’ death, gathered around Word and “Loaf”, pondering our Eucharist with brothers and sisters inside the house.
Separation from God is spiritual death; separation of body from its animating soul is physical death; separation of man and woman makes both bereft; separation from church, the body of Christ with brothers and sisters is spiritual death; for outside the church there is no life. Separation is death.
The Holy Communion is a physical event central in the life of God’s family. We observe self-separation in different ways, notably through “identity politics” and self-excommunication.
Adam employed his new “knowledge of good and evil”, blaming both God and the woman for his fallen circumstance, perceiving the woman imperfect gift.
The woman pointed to the lies of the serpent, implicitly accusing her husband of pastoral neglect; ever since, the woman’s female progeny would “desire” the office and authority of the man (Gen. 3:16b) exacerbating male-female tension.
Inherited knowledge of “good and evil” insinuates into the cluster of lusts “identity politics” toward those unlike us: man/woman, adult/child, race/nationality, mental acuity, age, and out of power politicians; all consigned to a bin, labeled “deplorables”. In this way, what God calls evil man judges an: “advantage of separation”.
But what Satan and man intend for evil, God nonetheless employs for good. In Eden, God put the Tree of Life before Adam and the woman; they chose death and darkness; life was withdrawn until its author, Jesus was baptized to die in our place.
The substance, the content of our eucharistic Loaf and Cup is Jesus’ death; his blood separated from his flesh, and Spirit returned to the Father for delivery to the church in the resurrection.
A skin medication advertisement asserts, touch is the manner by which humans express love. In this Wuhan year, fear of touch has decimated the church. To the extent one believes “science” makes a case for distancing, masks, and vaccination, fine; but in Christ we have been released to live without fear.
For fear, the Sacrament in some cases has been discarded, “social distancing” on steroids. On the cross Jesus’ sin-bearing flesh fulfilled the law for forgiveness through a communal “Loaf” for re-creating the family of God; fear of death has been turned to joy at his Touch in his house.
Restoration to Life, is ours in Jesus’ baptismal death. When he invited “deplorable” sinners and Gentiles into his house to share his Loaf with “friends”, many resisted the defining of new family.
The scandal of a shared meal with sinners and Gentiles would not be overcome until repentant faith from the Spirit for a new genesis. St. Paul says, what is visible to the eyes of our flesh are the things of the old creation wasting away.
What we see by faith in the promises of God is our advance in discerning the substance of our Loaf and Cup with brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Though our old flesh is being separated, we enter a building from God, “a house not made with hands” (5:1), the flesh of Christ for eternal life. Amen.