YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: “THE RELATIVES OF JESUS SET OUT TO SEIZE HIM, FOR PEOPLE WERE SAYING, ‘HE IS OUT OF HIS MIND.’ AND THE SCRIBES SAID, ‘HE IS POSSESSED BY BEELZEBUL.’” (Mark 3:21-22)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
I share with you an excerpt from an article headlined, “Pope Francis: Devil prefers a comfy, business-savvy church that overlooks truth”: “‘The devil would like to see a church that never takes any risks, never speaks out with the truth and just settles on being wishy-washy, comfortable and business-savvy,’ Pope Francis said. ‘God’s prophets always were persecuted because they created a disturbance, much like those today who denounce worldliness in the church and get ostracized.’
“However, ‘a church without martyrs gives rise to distrust; a church that takes no risks gives rise to distrust; a church that is afraid to proclaim Jesus Christ and cast out demons, idols and the other lord that is money is not the church of Jesus,’ he said.
“‘When the church is lukewarm, tranquil, everything organized, there are no problems, look where the deals are,’ he said, ‘because the devil always comes in through the pocket.’” (America Magazine, May 23, 2017) In the gospel passage we hear today, we encounter Jesus proclaiming a message so disturbingly counter-cultural that his closest followers, to save him from himself, pull him out of the public eye against accusations of insanity, while the religious authorities accuse him of being possessed by the devil. St. Mark writes, “The relatives of Jesus set out to seize him, for people were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’ And the scribes said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul.’” (Mark 3:21-22)
Out of our minds, possessed by demons—were we to live as Jesus proclaimed, as our Christian values insist, surely we would probably be treated in just the same way. For, increasingly, Jesus’ teachings are at odds with the proud pronouncements of the authorities of our day. And so Jesus puts the challenge before us: Dare we leap into the insanity of which he was accused? Dare we move away from what Pope Francis calls wishy-washy, comfortable Christianity?
Let the account of one mid-life couple’s journey to lead a more honest spiritual life spur us on to do the same. I share with you an excerpt from an article entitled, “How the Catholic Worker showed me what it means to be Catholic,” authored by Shannon Evans: “We were particularly intrigued by the Catholic Worker movement. In the 1930s, co-founders Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin had pioneered the idea of creating a community that would open its doors and its arms to those on the margins of society by treating them with the dignity already bestowed on them as image-bearers of God. Peter Maurin famously envisioned a society ‘where it is easier for people to be good.’ There are now hundreds of Catholic Worker communities around the world, and from time to time we would toss around the idea of visiting one.
“That day came sooner than I expected [when] my husband discovered a brand new house of hospitality right in our little city of Denton, Texas. We felt a jolt of hope. We were [there] within the week.
“Holding close their principles of nonviolence and voluntary poverty, men and women younger than ourselves were daily showing us what it meant to live out the works of mercy. Theirs was the kingdom of God: a messy, imperfect, upside- down world where the powerful humbled themselves to become servants of the needy. There were no awards or accolades for piety here, only the sincerely held belief that the face of Christ shines through the people whom society has made no room for. “I could receive the touch of Christ through their hands; I could see my suffering in theirs and we could both be healed just a little bit more. Because Christ became human, all humans belong to me and I to them.” (America Magazine, February 2, 2017)