June 8, 2018

Tenth Week of Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Genesis is the source of the first reading for Mass this weekend. Genesis is the first book chronologically and sequentially in the modern editions of the Bible. It is among the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament. These books altogether form the Pentateuch, a term taken from the Greek word for “five.”

For Judaism, these five books are the bedrock of God’s revelation to humanity.

It is more than a matter of chronology, or even antiquity. These books present the very basis for understanding the identity of Almighty God, for knowing ourselves and for defining the purpose and the realities of life.

Given this virtually sublime importance to our knowledge of everything real, it is sad that study of Genesis so often merely skips along the surface and among the trivia. For instance, it hardly is critical to know how many days the creation of the universe required. The universe is here. We are part of it. It did not just “happen.” God created everything.

God gave us life. He furthermore gave us the power to discern and to act. He gave us a free will. He destined us for union with him in eternity.

These are the magnificent facts provided by Genesis, not incidentals to tantalize our bewilderment as to where Eden, the garden of paradise, was located in the world.

The supreme message for us in this passage from Genesis is that if we dismiss God’s revelation, if we reject God, we reap the whirlwind. Look at Adam. He was not a figure totally unique. As the first human male, he represents each of us. Genesis urges us to beware of Adam’s plight.

St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the second reading. It also provides a lesson about our identity. We are individuals with our own opportunities and problems. As humans, just as in the case of Adam, we make mistakes. We sin.

We are not lost in the fog, however, blindly and inevitably stumbling toward the rim of the cliff from which we fall upon the rocks. The Holy Spirit empowers, inspires and guides us.

The Holy Spirit moved St. Paul. He was not unique, however, as he insists. Every earnest disciple can be confident of equal help from the Spirit.

St. Mark’s Gospel furnishes the final reading. In this passage, as was so often the case, Jesus was with the disciples. His familiarity with the disciples is important. Their memories of the Lord are reliable.

Jesus is also with other people. His relatives are there, along with bystanders.

The common thread running through the story is the lack of perception, or worse, on the part of the audience. They simply do not get it. Jesus had to turn to parables to make the lesson clear.

He actually spoke quite logically. No one can serve two masters or serve competing purposes. It was as clear as it could be, but so many simply did not perceive the reality, regardless of how boldly it stood before them.

Reflection

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the revelation of how, and what, we are. We are creatures of God and children of God.

The wonder and the tragedy are in the fact that we squander this magnificent blessing and literally dig our own graves. So it was with Adam. So it has been, and is, in the case of everyone who sins. And we all sin.

We are not meant to be hopeless victims of our own limitations, to be manipulated, tempted and left to our doom.

We need God, and God mercifully comes to us in our need. If we verify our identity through our Christian commitment, the Holy Spirit is with us. †

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