Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

10th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: DOING THE WILL OF GOD

Mk 3: 20-35


IN THE GOSPEL TODAY we are told that “Jesus came home”. That means, he returned to Nazareth. One might think such popularity would be welcomed especially by his family. [By the way, the word family does not mean a ‘direct family’. Literally it means, “those around him” which could mean “friends,” “family,” “relatives” or “household.”] On the contrary, He is an embarrassment to them. They think He is “out of his mind” because He is in conflict with the religious leaders, with the Pharisees and the Scribes. In addition, they were not happy to see Jesus in the company of sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers and outcasts.

While relaxing briefly in His home, a large crowd arrived including scribes from Jerusalem who assert: “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons”. This refusal to see the hand of God at work in Jesus is the fatal mistake that will lead to their condemnation. Jesus himself explains this immediately after he is accused of being in league with evil: he asks, “How can Satan drive out Satan?... if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him”. In other words, anyone should be able to see that those who act against evil cannot be in alliance with evil at the same time. So, the scribes’ accusation that Jesus was casting out demons by the prince of demons was simply ridiculous.

Jesus then emphasizes what it takes to be his true and faithful disciple. Those who hear his word and keep it, are the ones who find in Him life, forgiveness, and redemption. These sort of people He considers as “my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’.

Jesus has said about what his true family is, and what does it consist of. In Jewish society, family relationships are extremely important. The family took its meals together and aided one another. Jesus uses this concept of family to cause His followers to judge their relationships in the light of the criterion of the Father’s will. The reign of God makes demands on the personal commitment of a disciple, which must transcend all natural bonds of family. The relationship is not by blood, but by identification with the Way of Jesus. To be a Christian is to enter into a new family, with stronger ties than those of blood and where everyone is seen as a brother or a sister. The members of this new family are defined simply as “anyone who does the will of God”.

How can we discern the will of God, and what does it mean to do the will of God?

Firstly, the Christian may follow the simple instruction: “Do good and avoid evil.” But how does one know what’s good in a complex moral situation? The Ten Commandments are good guides, as these are the teachings in the third quarter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first phrase, “do good” is that important. We commit to do good. “Avoiding evil” is another part of the instruction. But we don’t just avoid evil, and then forget about doing good. There are people who think that they are doing God’s will as long as they avoid evil. That is “minimalism”, and that is not the point here.

Secondly, doing the will of God demands a process of discernment. It demands prayer and reflections. It is important to make some time to be alone with our thoughts and with God. For example, in making crucial decisions in life, we invite God to be involved in the process. In the process of discernment, the Christian listens for and to the Lord’s voice because there is more one needs to know. Our purpose here is to align our own will and desire with the Way of Jesus, and thus, the Will of God.

Thirdly, we can know that we are doing the will of God by the fruits. If the fruits or results of our decision are good, then it is a good indication that the decision we have made is good. If the fruits are “rotten,” then that is a good indication that we may need to change your course. True discernment results in good fruit. The fruits can also be seen in terms of love, joy and interior peace. One spiritual writer says that one way to test whether we are doing the will of God is the joy or happiness that our work gives us. If we are happy with it, then it is also the will of God for us.

Pope Francis once reflected on today’s gospel theme. He said that doing the will of God was not easy for Christ, thus, it will not be easy for us either. That is why it is so important to pray for knowledge of God’s will, to have the desire to do it, and then pray to carry it out. The Lord grants this opportunity of obedience to each individual so that everyone can be a part of that group who crowded around Christ, and of whom he said “here is my mother and my brothers and my sisters.” Doing God’s will, Pope Francis concluded, “makes us become part of Jesus’ family; it makes us his mother, father, sister, brother.” AMEN.


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