CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Tenth Sunday of the Year - The mother Israel and the mother Church

Who is this person, Jesus? Some say that he is out of his mind. Some accuses him of being in league with Satan. While the public debates over this question, the family in Nazareth hears the news from Capernaum and comes to take him back home. 
 
When his mother, brothers and sisters arrive at Capernaum, Jesus is in the house, in the middle of a circle of people. They do not come in; they want to talk to him and expect him to come out. 
 
Now, the spatial image acquires a clear theological significance: there is a clear distinction between those outside and those inside, between the old and the new brothers, sisters and mother. 
 
Relatives who are left out represent, in Mark’s intention, ancient Israel. Rightly, the evangelist does not mention Mary by name but simply called her “mother.” He considers her the symbol of the “woman Israel,” of the people from whom the saviour was born. Ancient Israel was caught by surprise by the Messiah of God. She saw all of her theological convictions and hopes accumulated over the centuries called into question. She tried to put him back in the family, to bring him back into traditional patterns. 
 
Jesus cannot accept it. He is not the one that has to go out. Those outside are the ones who must enter and accept the conditions set down by God in order to belong to the new family, to the new mother Israel, the Christian community. 
 
Whoever stays outside of this perspective, this “new home,” although biologically a child of Abraham, is neither his brother nor his sister nor his mother. 
 
Today, it also applies to the Christians who are baptised but remain outside without listening or living by his word.
 
The gospel also discusses the accusation that Jesus exorcises using Beelzebul, the prince of the devils. To counter their accusations, Jesus resorts to the usual image: the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of satan.” They face each other with their angelic armies deployed in battle. In fact it is the relentless struggle between the life-giving divine forces and impulses to evil, rooted in man, causing death. These diabolic and murderous forces, are embodied, that is, act in and through humans. 
 
Jesus also refutes their arguments using the image of the strong man who is defeated by a stronger one. The kingdom of the devil—he ensures—has its days counted; its end has already started because a vastly superior force for good has entered the world. 
 
Although Satan still seems to be the ruler, in fact, he has already been dethroned, no longer dominates from the top. In fact, Jesus sees him “fall like lightning from heaven.” “The stronger man” has taken away the ability to harm (Luke 10:18-19). 
 
These statements are an invitation to hope, a stimulus to grow in the certainty that God’s plan of salvation will be implemented, even if it will take a long time before this victory is manifested in its fullness. 
 
To think otherwise, to give up in the face of evil, to let the arms down, is to recognise that Jesus is less powerful than evil.
 
 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini CMF
     Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/10th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-b-june-10-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF