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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 9-12): Multiplication

Mark 3.20-35 

 
 

The Gospel for this Sunday is a sort of sandwich. St. Mark begins by talking about Jesus' family and ends by talking about them. In the middle we hear a different story. Can the inside story help us understand the bread of the sandwich?

Photo by The Matter of Food on Unsplash
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”

Jesus returns home after travelling around Galilee proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has come near, healing people, and casting out demons. Doing these things causes crowds of people to follow him. He chooses twelve people that he calls apostles whom he will send out to do the same. Then he goes home.


Everyone goes home at some point to rest. Home is where we can relax—eat, sleep, and get our energy back. But as soon as Jesus gets home, the crowd forms around him again. St. Mark says that he and his apostles cannot even eat. But since eating a bite or two of bread takes only a couple of seconds, probably St. Mark wants us to understand that Jesus and his apostles do not get the rest they seek.


We notice that Jesus does not live with his family. They go out to restrain him when they hear that he cannot rest, when they hear the rumours that he is out of his mind.


That is the first piece of bread for the sandwich. Now St. Mark tells another story for the middle of the sandwich.

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

Rumours about Jesus must have reached Jerusalem as well. These people do not like what they hear about Jesus casting out demons. We wonder why not. They think that Jesus himself has a demon—Be-elzebul, the king of demons. They think only someone with a demon could cast out a demon. Or at least, they want to think this.

Jesus handles this in an interesting way. He does not argue with them. He does not tell them that they are being ridiculous. Instead he tells them parables. We wonder why.

“How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

Jesus suggests that it does not make sense for a demon to cast out another demon. Are they not on the same team? If evil tosses out evil, would not the kingdom of evil fall apart? Why would one demon cast out another demon from a person? Demon divided by demon? Does that not equal 1? Would that not leave the person whole?

And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

This sounds like Jesus repeats himself, does it not? We know that when he repeats himself, it means something important. Only this time he says house instead of kingdom. We know that when our own homes are divided, when we fight with our family, our home cannot stand as a peaceful place. It leaves us feeling insecure.

And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.

If, as the scribes say, Jesus has a demon himself and casts out other demons, so that evil divides and cannot stand, then evil no longer presents a problem in the world. That would be wonderful, if Satan's end has come. But we know that is not the case. The scribes know that, too. Jesus' parables ask the scribes to think about what they say.

But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

If nothing else, Jesus' parables must confuse the scribes! What does Jesus mean here? He begins with, "But..." so, this parable differs from the parables about division. All along they have been talking about casting out demons. Perhaps the demons possess people like a strong man owns a house. If Jesus wants to plunder the house—wipe it clean—he would have to be stronger than the strong man. He would have to tie up the strong man first. He would have to cast out the demon. Which he does.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

In telling parables, in getting the scribes to think about what on earth he means, he gives them time to think about what they say, about what they do, about what they truly believe. And good thing, too, because then he gives them a warning. Be careful, he says, because if you call God, something Evil instead... then you reject God. You turn your back forever.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Whoa. That must make them stop and think.

And we do, too.

We understand that we must be very careful before calling something evil. We do not want to reject God.


And now St. Mark leaves the meat of the sandwich and returns to the bread. Jesus' family shows up at the home.

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

Uh oh. It sounds like there is division within Jesus' own family. His family stands outside the home and Jesus sits with the crowd within.

And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Oh ho! That must make them stop and think.

And we do, too.

We understand what St. Mark understands.

Jesus' family is not divided. His family multiplies!

Jesus looks at the crowd sitting listening to him and opens his arms wide.

Larger and larger, his family grows.

He welcomes into his family all who do the will of God.

He welcomes all who recognize the holy and do not call it evil.

He welcomes us.

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