Meditation of the week

Doing the will of God

Mark 3,20-35.

Immediately preceding today’s gospel passage, we have the calling of the twelve apostles by Jesus, (3,13-19),  to be his companions, to preach, and to have the power to cast out devils. Having called them, he went with them to his home place, but is immediately surrounded by such a huge crowd of enthusiastic people, so demanding of his time and attention, that neither he nor his disciples, have chance to eat anything.  When his family hear of what is happening, they came rescue him, for his own good, “convinced he was out of his mind.” They clearly misunderstood what he was all about. None of the other gospels mention this negative estimation of Jesus by his family.

His family’s concern for his welfare was well-intentioned, in contrast with that of the Scribes, the legal experts, who had come from Jerusalem. Their interest in Jesus would probably have been aroused by his working miracles on the sabbath, his claiming to forgive sin, and his tolerance and compassion for sinners. They were determined to undermine and destroy his ministry by claiming that it was through the power of the devil that he was working his miracles, and especially his casting out of devils.  Jesus challenges their claims and shows how ludicrous they are.  If what they were saying were true, it would mean that Satan was fighting against himself, and therefore undermining himself, which made no sense.   If a kingdom or a household is divided against itself it cannot last, and neither would Satan’s kingdom.  Jesus, by casting out devils, shows he has power over them, and is more powerful than Satan.  He is the one who enters the strong man’s house, i.e (Satan’s house) and ties him up and burgles his property –  a graphic parable, showing that Jesus is more powerful than Satan.

Jesus accuses the scribes of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in their claim that his miraculous powers result from his being possessed by Satan.  They are guilty of an “eternal sin.” The rabbis distinguished between sins that were forgivable in this world or the next, and ones that were not forgivable in this world or the next. Their sin is unforgivable because, in claiming that Jesus was working through Satan, they were subverting/perverting the power of the Holy Spirit, active in the person and work of Jesus.  While in that state of mind, they are impervious to the influence of the Holy Spirit, and blind to the need for asking and accepting the grace of forgiveness.

The arrival of Jesus’ mother and brothers finds the crowd still sitting around Jesus, as they try to reach him. This is our first acquaintance with Jesus’ mother and brothers in Marks’s gospel. The mention of them gives Jesus the opportunity to ask and answer the question: “ Who are my mother and  my brothers?”  They are those “who do the will of God.” The real family of Jesus are those who are with him as disciples, those sitting around listening to him reveal to them the secrets of the kingdom of God.

Doing the will of God is our primary calling as Christians,  and through doing it we achieve our highest dignity – becoming a brother or sister of the Lord. Many obstacles prevent us from doing it. What obstacles prevent you from doing the will of God? What are you doing about them?

Fr Geoff O’Grady