The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.06.10
The Unity of the Church
The gospel reading for today purports to answer a questions concerning the authority of Jesus to cast out demons and devils.
Set aside for a moment that we do not live in a world populated by demons and devils. We live in God’s creation, a world that is wholly ordered to God, by God and for God.
There is no power other than God.
Jesus had been “casting out demons,” healing the sick, and his opponents want to downplay his authority by suggesting he is in league with the devil.
The gospel writers provide an argument which does little to challenge the claims of Jesus’ opponents. The argument they put in Jesus’ mouth is not conclusive, and is wide open to counterargument, and this is because they Gospel writers are not really directing this argument to Jesus’ opponents. The argument is directed toward their own opponents in the period of the early church.
It is less of an argument and more of a call to unity on the grounds of authority, not reason or rationality.
In the end the argument undermines the authority of the Gospel, watering down the good news as we have received it. It outlines an upper limits to God’s love and mercy, threatening anyone who would challenge the authority church, with eternal damnation.
The gospel says that God’s will is to forgive all sins, all blasphemies, except one, a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which the leaders of the church claims resides with them.
The Gospel writers call for the unity of the church, over and against the unity of the family, and this is the final tell that the gospel writers had strayed from the ministry of Jesus.
A Kingdom Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time