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Sunday Homily, 9 June 2024 - Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Passages like this Gospel reading are sometimes troubling for us who hold up the Mother of God as the exemplar of faith.  Why, only yesterday, we honoured her Immaculate Heart.  That’s the lovely devotion to her maternal love for her Son and also for us, the one which shows her heart ringed with roses: the beauty and fragrance of her love is directed towards us, which means the thorns are pointed inwards – hers is a heart pained by our sins and longing for our conversion.  We hold the Blessed Virgin up for veneration because we believe she was faithful to her Son.  But then there’s this episode in the Gospel, which shows her standing against the Lord rather than with him.  But we know the Blessed Virgin did the will of God because Mark never mentions her again in the Gospel, and John in his Gospel remembers she stood at the foot of the Cross.  There she stood, not in opposition but in love for her Son and Lord.

The course of the Blessed Virgin’s life and her corresponding journey of faith say much to us about what is expected of us.  We don’t want to confuse faith with comprehension.  We don’t have to understand everything to be believers.  To be a good believer, sometimes it’s enough just to be there, to show up, to live with the Lord; that's not all that's required of us, but sometimes showing up is what we have to do.  Understanding might come, or it might not, but we’re still urged to trust the Lord Jesus.  If we’re unsure about something which can indeed be understood, then we can ask about it, study it, pray over it.  But there’s always the possibility that what we don’t understand in full is simply beyond us at this time.  We have to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; so if our minds won't let us, we use another way to do what we must. So, we show up; we live knowing that Christ is alive and lives in us.  We are with him; we are his people; we are on his side.

We say to persevere with our allegiance to Christ because there is a whole other realm which is opposed to him: the unholy kingdom of Satan.  There are people, wittingly or not, who are its servants.  If the family of Jesus made a mistake, that he is out of his mind when he was doing his Father’s will, the Jerusalem scribes make a worse one: they think that he is tricking people with the exorcisms, and so think he is wielding Satan’s power.  If that’s the case, it would be a disaster: there’d be a preacher in Galilee who is an agent of evil.  But the scribes have to have it pointed out to them that Satan cannot be cast out by a power equal to himself.  The scribes are mistaken, very much mistaken: only a power greater than Satan can cast him out.  Only a power greater than evil can expel evil.  So, the Lord offers the redirection.

Christ has come to this world, in which Satan has been allowed to operate; the Lord is the "stronger man" of his parable who, by his birth as God and man has broken into Satan’s “house”, has bound Satan by these exorcisms and his saving death and resurrection, and stolen his possessions by snatching souls to heaven by grace.  Now that the Lord has made that clear by sound reasoning and divine revelation, the scribes are without excuse: it is unforgiveable to persist in the false opinion that Christ is an agent of Satan.  He is his Father’s Son, our Lord and God, and to him we and all things are subject.

The Father sent his Son into the world to save us, to save sinners.  We are being snatched away to glory by grace.  There is no power which can withstand the advance of him who died and rose again.  The Lord taught us how to deal with evil in his Prayer: evil is there mentioned, but it’s last where it belongs.  Thus, we carry on with Christ.  We put ourselves into his hands and swear allegiance to his kingdom.  That doesn’t mean we’ll always understand what’s going on, but it does mean we always do what needs doing.  The Blessed Virgin showed herself to be truly Mother to Jesus after she gave birth to him and raised him by lovingly doing what is required of us: she remained with Jesus.  She showed up on Good Friday with tears of love, but with feet firmly planted in faith.  And so, hers is the example of Christian faith we follow.

Doing the will of God is how we know that we’re on the side of the angels. So, there may be things we’re getting up to which aren’t in God’s will.  If that’s the case: knock it off.  We’re subject to one kingdom or another.  May Christ’s kingdom come in us.

Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Parish Priest

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