Sunday, June 10, is the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). Mass Readings: Genesis 3:9-15; Psalm 130: 1-8; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35.
The first reading today picks up the Genesis narrative just after Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge. Though many things can be said of their sin, one important detail is that they both listen to a voice other than God’s: Eve listens to the serpent, and Adam listens to Eve. Although God speaks directly to them in the Garden, articulating his will to them in his command not to eat from the fruit of that tree, they seem to be all too ready to ignore God’s voice. This is perhaps because deep down they want to eat of the fruit of the tree, and another voice — whether the serpent’s or Eve’s — gives license to do this. The effect of their ignoring God’s voice in this way is, in a word, discord. When God confronts Adam and Eve for their disobedience, they neither admit their fault nor express compunction; rather, they blame others. While Eve blames the serpent, Adam blames Eve and even insinuates that God is partially at fault: “The woman whom you put here with me — she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it” (3:12). The result is that Adam and Eve are estranged from the natural world, one another and even God.
In the episode recounted in the Gospel of St. Mark today, we encounter other people who, in an analogous way, fail to listen to God’s voice. Jesus returns home after an extensive mission of teaching and healing in Galilee (3:7-12). However, neither the truth of his teachings nor the healing power of his works has any effect on those whom he encounters upon his return. First, his own relatives question his mental fitness, and, second, the scribes from Jerusalem accuse him of being possessed by Beelzebul. Both of these responses are essentially a matter of ignoring God’s voice speaking in their midst. For them, it is far more comforting to think that Jesus is out of his mind or possessed than to think that he speaks God’s word. Like Adam and Eve, this unwillingness to listen to God’s voice has an alienating effect: They are left “standing outside” the circle of his teaching (3:31-32, 34).
In contrast, the disciples recognize Jesus as the Incarnate Word, and this enables them to draw ever closer to God. Because they listen to Jesus’ voice, the disciples are able to receive the word of God, which, in turn, enables them to exercise their share in Christ’s own mission of teaching and healing (3:13-15). Their attentiveness to the Incarnate Word is ultimately that which transforms them into his new family (3:33-34). As Christ explains, his disciples have become his mother and brothers because “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” By listening to God’s voice speaking in Christ the Incarnate Word, they have indeed become acquainted with God’s will and at the same time have received the power to act on it.
For us, too, it is important to listen to the voice of God speaking in our midst. But where do we hear this voice speaking? God’s voice is audible in both sacred Scripture and the magisterium, composed as it is of the successors of the apostles. It is only by listening to God’s voice in this way that we can come to know God’s will and act on it, and thereby also become Christ’s brothers and sisters.
Dominican Father Jordan Schmidt is an instructor in sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Faculty of the
Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.