Second Sunday after Pentecost

& main, Year B.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
And to bear the cost
Of giving up our false self.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice
Help me to follow you in all of life,
To walk in the joy and freedom of the resurrection,
Indwelt and led  by your Pentecost Spirit.
Amen

Second Sunday after Pentecost

We are led by the lectionary, into Mark’s gospel. This could seem counter-intuitive, because we are walking the path of the season of Pentecost. But if we pause again to listen to various reactions to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, we begin to read this gospel narrative through the additional lens of human puzzlement. In the book of Acts as the Holy Spirit is given, the crowd who gathers are amazed and perplexed. “What does this mean?” they ask.  Others sneer, saying, “They are filled with new wine.” (Acts 2:13,13)

In this gospel narrative Jesus, filled with the Spirit,  responds  to the multitude which gathers – at  the door of Simon Peter’s house, also on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. Filled with compassion, Jesus turns his full attention to the crowd, drawing their attention to the kingdom of God  as he weaves stories from seeds and soils, nets, chickens, bread-making , and as he reaches out to heal their sick, and cast out demons.  So given is Jesus to ministering to the crowd, that he does not eat (Mark 3:20), and some in the crowd begin to say, “He has gone out of his mind.” (3:21) Certain scribes who have come down from Jerusalem to see what this new preacher and healer is about, judge Jesus as being empowered by Satan: “. . . by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:22, 30)

At this Jesus turns his attention to these by-standers, and beckons them to come closer to where he is sitting. Once more, Jesus chooses a parable to shed light on hidden and spiritual realities. He likens the realm of Beelzebub to a house. There Satan dominates his own kingdom and household:  how could Satan remain standing if he is against himself, and divides his house and kingdom against itself?  (Mark 3:24-26)

Now Jesus reveals his own authority and power over Satan: “ . . . 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.” When Jesus casts out demons he is binding the power of Satan, and plundering his house. (Mark 3:27)

But Jesus goes further now, as he makes clear the kind of danger people are in if they not only deny the presence and Being of the Holy Spirit, but also  judge this member of the Godhead to be demonic. Such an attitude locks the person into a dark and eternal prison, from which there is no escape.  For it is the work of the Holy Spirit to help people to awaken to their need of God, of Jesus. To reveal their need of rescue from evil, from sin, through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. To help people know the great and forgiving love of God who calls us all back into relationship with God.  To become part of God’s household!

Now someone calls Jesus’ attention to members of his earthly household: his mother and his brothers, who were standing outside wanting to speak to him. Worried about the kind of public reputation their son and brother is getting (Mark 3:21), and the way in which Jesus gives himself to the needs of the thousands of people who swarm around him, his mother and brothers seek to intervene (Matthew 12:47)  But in response Jesus shifts our attention to a deeper and larger household, astonishing us as he asks (in true rabbinical fashion), “Who are my mother and my brothers?” In answer to his own question Jesus turns his gaze to those who are sitting around him and says,

“Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does
the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark 3:34,35)

This is the “household” of God – a building not made by hands, eternal in the heavens. This eternal house is recognized by Paul who also draws our attention beyond the limits of our lives and all that pushes against us in this world because of our love for Jesus.

Often, when persons desire to speak about their experience of God, of some spiritual knowing, they will say something like, “If I tell you this, you will think I’m crazy  . . . “ Like Jesus’ earthly family, they are afraid of being judged as “out of their mind.” Rather, the opposite is true: Jesus was in his right mind. And as we awaken to God’s presence and work in our lives, and own the spiritual experience, we are also in our right minds. The Holy Spirit is helping us awaken to God, revealing God’s presence and care in our lives, God’s presence and work in the world around us.

In the church we discern poorly the presence and work of the Holy Spirit – the very One who comes to help us in our discernment and recognition!

For reflection:

Who is the Holy Spirit for you?

What kind of reaction/responses arise within you as Jesus draws your attention to the Holy Spirit in this gospel narrative in Mark 3?

What questions or desires do you want to bring to God as you pray?

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us
In the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit,
Help me to be aware of how you come,
To be hospitable to your help,
And  to your leading in the way of Jesus.
Amen

Second Sunday after Pentecost

  • 6/4       Monday:  Mark 3:20 – 30
  • 6/5       Tuesday:  John 3:31 – 35
  • 6/6       Wednesday:  Psalm  138
  • 6/7       Thursday: 1 Samuel 8:4 – 10; 11:14 – 15
  • 6/8        Friday: 2 Corinithians 4:13 – 5:1
  • 6/9       Saturday: Mark 3:20 – 30
  • 6/10      Sunday: Mark 3: 31 – 35