TRINITY 1    7 JUNE 2015   Gospel: Mk 3.20-end 

Now Eastertide is over we return on Sundays to St Markís Gospel. After his brief introduction the Evangelist describes the Lordís early ministry in Galilee . Jesus went from town to town and village to village preaching the good news. Hundreds, even thousands, came to see him attracted by his words and even more by his healings. What did it all mean? Who was he, this man from Nazareth ?

Jesus said that that God was in what he was doing. God was close and about to reign among them. Jesus preached that the kingdom of God was near.  The miraculous healings showed God in action.

Where is Godís kingdom now? Where Jesus is, there is the kingdom of God . As he promised he is surely present with us now. Where the Holy Spirit is active and manifest in his gifts, there also is Godís kingdom.

I saw an example of this recently in a Television interview. A Taiwanese businessman was shown with some youngsters, whose ransom he had just paid to the traffickers who had persuaded them to go on boats seeking another country. Thousands were marooned on boats which couldnít find a country to accept them. Ransoms were demanded or they would be killed. The businessman who was being interviewed said that he intended to find the money to release all these migrants. "Saving human life", he said, "is more important than my property and possessions".  In him and in that terrible situation the kingdom of God was present.

Where Godís kingdom is present the powers of evil will surely oppose it.  This morningís Gospel reading tells how leading religious experts denounced Jesus and his teachings and healings. His friends and perhaps even his family thought that Jesus was a bit barmy but the religious leaders had a different explanation: "He is an agent of the Devil", they said "and his miracles are performed by Satan".

Jesus defended himself; pointing especially to people who had been delivered from demonic possession: "The Devil surely doesnít get rid of devils" but his opponents didnít give up their hostile attitude.

A sentence in todayís Gospel has puzzled and worried many. Jesus said "The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit canít be forgiven". The context of this saying is the charge that Jesus was possessed by an unclean spirit; that his actions were not inspired by the Holy Spirit but were the work of demons, in fact of the Prince of Evil, Beelzebub. Jesus said that those who persisted in this perversion of the truth couldnít be forgiven.

St Mark records that the Mother and relatives of Jesus came to see him. Some suggest that perhaps they wanted to rescue him and take him back home to Nazareth because they thought that he was deluded.. We donít know. Perhaps they came to support him.  That would be natural in the circumstances.  When someone is accused we often see that his wife and family support him.

In any case the Evangelist is making a different point. Jesusís family were outside the house where he was. They couldnít get near because there were so many in the house listening to Jesus. His natural family are outside but Jesus said that his real family are those inside.  They are the household of God; those who hear and do Godís will and are therefore members of Godís kingdom.

In fact as we learn from the other Gospels the Mother and close relatives of Jesus were also members of his spiritual family. After his resurrection one of his family, James, was the leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem and, like St Stephen, was stoned to death for his faith in Jesus.

Jesus said "Whoever does the will of God is my Brother and my Sister and Mother". Our Lady Mary is the outstanding example of one who did Godís will when she accepted the angelís message telling her that God had chosen her to be the mother of his only Son. On the cross Jesus gave Mary to be the Mother of his beloved disciple.  e are not told his name so that he represents each and every disciple of the Lord.  He made his Mother, the Mother of the entire Church, the family of God.

With St Richard of Chichester we pray:  

Thanks be to Thee my Lord Jesus Christ for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother, May I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly. Amen.  

Crispin Harrison CR