God's word on Sunday: Healing starts with leaving fear behind

  • June 4, 2018

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 10 (Year B) Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35

Where are you? God has addressed this question to humans since the beginning of time. The human response has almost always been the same: we are ashamed, we are naked, we have hidden ourselves.

The symbolic teaching story of the Garden of Eden sought to answer the age-old question: Where does evil come from? Why do we — and especially the innocent — suffer so? Where is God in all of this? 

Ancient literature abounded in stories that explained the human condition and this story is in that tradition. The answer was devastatingly clear. Go look in the mirror and you will see the source of evil and misery. 

In their state of primal happiness, Adam and Eve were unaware of being separate from one another, creation and God. Their disobedience in the form of asserting their ego and independence ruptured that relationship, sending them and their descendants on a long, painful journey through history. With the loss of the awareness of God, fear became the ruling force in human hearts and it remains so today. The frightening world we live in is the result. 

We have created a world in our own image, a world of fear. In the reading from Genesis, the serpent gets the worst of it as God lays a curse on him. Within the entire chapter, humans — both men and women — are also “cursed” with lives of toil and suffering. The so-called curse is not a punishment from God, but the consequences of turning from God. We pass the “curse” on to the next generation in the form of fear, selfishness, hatred, injustice and lack of love. 

The political, economic and religious structures that we create “help” us in this work. What inspiring examples do today’s young people have? Far too few good ones, to be sure. 

The beginning of healing is to step out of hiding when God calls, nakedness and all. To be willing to stand before God stripped of self-delusion, pretence and excuses is the first step to recovery and healing. God hasn’t gone anywhere, we have. And God is not angry with us; we are angry with ourselves and dreadfully afraid. When we hear the voice of God calling us, we can take a deep breath and say, “Here I am, Lord!”

Along with many others, Paul had already begun the journey home. He recognized that everything in life, including our bodies, is temporary and passing. Even though we live in a constant state of “entropy” — winding down and wearing out — that is only part of the picture. At the same time, the Spirit is at work constructing a Heavenly home and a spiritual self that will live in glory with Christ. 

We need not be dismayed or discouraged at afflictions, disappointments or the difficulties that life can bring. This is not our home. Our home is with God, where it has always been.

As the only human fully awake and aware of God’s presence, Jesus must have appeared to many of His contemporaries as a madman. He didn’t act as people saw fitting, and He seemed unconcerned with received human opinions and traditions. Those around Him believed that He was out of His mind. 

Many of the scribes accused Jesus of being in league with Beelzebul, the prince of the demons. How else, they reasoned, could He be so effective in casting out demons? Jesus pointed out the absurdity of that accusation — any power or entity divided against itself is doomed to collapse. His power flowed from His union with God the Father. To witness this power and ascribe it to demonic sources was regarded as the ultimate sin. 

When His family came to take Him away, He showed just how much He had transcended earthly bonds. He now belonged to all humanity and, most of all, to God. His love was universal and all who did the will of God belonged to His family. 

God is at work all around us, but often people deny this divine presence and activity. It is all too easy to explain it away, attach negative labels to it or wallow in cynicism and unbelief. Jesus saw God everywhere and the world was alive with God’s presence. He was unafraid and invited others to be the same. 

Let us wake from our sleep and our fearful lack of awareness. 

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