Reflection for Sunday – June 9, 2024

Readings: Genesis 3: 9-15; 2 Corinthians 4: 13-5:1; Mark 3: 20-35 
Preacher: Gloria Ulterino

Our oldest, Stacey, was just 3 years old.  We had just bought our first house and had just finished painting a hallway that ran the entire length of the house.  It was now a creamy off-white, rather than the original brown.  So, Stacey decided to help.  She took a green crayon and set to work.  A few minutes later?  Green crayon up and down the hall!  We, her parents, were upset, of course!  But.  She looked so pleased and proud that we simply couldn’t punish her! 

This story came to mind as I was working on my most recent homily—because, at that very moment, she was part of our process of becoming.  Becoming all we are meant to be.  Becoming better parents.  Becoming people who really care about one another.  Becoming people who try to understand what’s going on in the minds and hearts of those we care about.  Of course, none of that crossed my mind in that moment!  And yet, she was clearly trying to please us.  Only afterwards could I ask myself: How was she also helping us become better people? 

Ultimately, this story has made me wonder: if we struggle so much to love, what must God’s love for each of us look like?  How does that love take root in us?  Enough to become part of our everyday life?  In effect, how can each of us reveal just a little bit of God’s vast love of everyone in this world?  Or, at least, of those we encounter on a daily basis?  In effect, is that why Mark simply had to write his Gospel, the very first such proclamation of God’s overflowing love for us in and through Jesus, the Christ?

Even when it might have cost him his very life?  For he was writing in the late 60s, some 30 years after the life/ death/ and resurrection of Jesus.  Even at a time of intense Roman persecution!  Or, in another example, is that why Paul, a persecutor of Christians, was totally transformed from a murderer of Christians to someone who could not do enough for them, on behalf of Jesus, the Christ?  Indeed, he traveled some 12,000 miles to passionately proclaim all the ways in which this Jesus had made all the difference for him!  Furthermore, is that why so many people, from then until now, year after year, in country after country, simply had to follow their hearts on behalf of this Jesus?  No matter the cost!  How, in effect, do our readings encourage us to become the very people of God’s hopes and dreams?

Truth matters here.  Don’t we all know how tough it can be to recognize … and then become … our potential?  To become God’s dreams for each of us?  There can be so many temptations that get in our way.  We call it sin, right?  As in blaming someone else for our shortcomings.  Does today’s First Reading sound familiar?  We’re accused of what we’ve done.  And what happens?  We might blame someone else.  “Not me!  It must have been him!  Or her!”  Until, finally, we stop.  And find a way through.  Until finally, not unlike the Psalmist, we can name our sorrow.  Our suffering.  Our struggle.  Our deep longing for healing.  Until, finally… just like the Psalmist… we know where to turn.  To God, who Alone is healing and forgiveness.  Who Alone is the One we can deeply trust.  Now, finally, we can express our sorrow for whatever we’ve done to harm … or even destroy… our relationship with another, and ultimately with God.  Now, finally, we can look deep within, own up to mistakes, and really do our best to try again.  (Praying with the given Psalm – 130 – can be very helpful, in this regard.)

And yet, there’s even more Good News as we travel this road to becoming our full potential.  Once again, St. Paul helps us out here.  As one who moved from rejecting Jesus to becoming his greatest advocate all over the known Western world in his day, he points the way.  Be thankful, he urges us!  Not just in general, but in specific ways!  After all, as he puts it: the God who raised Jesus from the dead will do the same for us!  Even during tough times, even when it doesn’t feel like anything is happening, God is at work.  In us and for us!  We can count on it!

Finally, there is hope in Mark’s Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with his earthly family.  I’ll freely admit: I had to work hard to find hope in this story.  But I’m now convinced: it’s there.  Maybe it’s Mark’s way of saying that any of us might struggle with family, one way or another.  Even the family of Jesus had trouble understanding his full potential.  And yet, in the end, Mark assures us that we will find family in anyone and everyone who does the will of God!  And a lifetime of experience has convinced me of the truth of Mark’s words!

Gloria Ulterino
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