10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 3:9-15    2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1   Mark 3:20-35

Our Lady of Mount CarmelIn Saint Mark’s gospel it seems that everybody fails Jesus – his disciples, his people, even his family. Throughout this gospel of Saint Mark we read of the persecution of Jesus, of rejection and abandonment. In today’s extract from the gospel it seems that the family of Jesus have been influenced into believing that He is ‘out of his mind’. He seemed to be going too far in his preaching and his mission. The religious experts from Jerusalem had already confronted him and now they were joined by his relatives. Mark concludes this treatment of Jesus with the sorrowful and lonesome cry even to the Father “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”(Mk 15:34).

Today’s gospel story might prompt us to ask ‘and what about his mother Mary? Yes, Mary seems to be missing until she is mentioned as being ‘outside asking for you’. We know of Mary mainly from the gospels of Luke and John. Saint Mark mentions her only twice, in today’s gospel reading, and only again when the doubting crowd ask ‘is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?’ (Mk 6:3). So, today we must take the opportunity to look at Mary as Mark briefly portrays her, or presents her to us as Jesus teaches.

Mark does not intend to say anything about Mary but rather to cast the teaching of Jesus in a strong a light as possible. At first it seems as if Jesus is dismissive of his mother and his brothers but that is hardly the case. The Lord is emphasising that to have a relationship with him depends on Faith rather than on blood affinity. The issue here is Discipleship. A disciple is one who is called and who responds with commitment. A disciple follows the Master and leads others to him. A disciple is one who will give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God. And today’s gospel reading gives us the Lord’s perspective.  “Who are my mother and my brothers and sisters?”  Who are my disciples?  ‘Looking at those who sat around him, he said “Whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother.” 

So, Mary is his disciple, his first and foremost disciple. She is the one who does the ‘will of God’ through the ages: “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done according to your word.”  Saint Augustine added an important comment to the words of Mark: ’For Mary, it is a greater thing for her to have been a disciple of Jesus than to have been his mother.’ 

In the other gospels we are given deep and profound descriptions of Mary and her role in the Kingdom of God. But today we are left to ponder the coldness and loneliness of Mark’s picture. The words of Genesis in our first reading today echo hauntingly ‘I will make you enemies of each other you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring.’ 

We are associated with Mary, we look to her as model, we share her suffering, we are fellow disciples. In Mark’s gospel Mary is silent, more silent than in any other gospel. It is a silence beyond words. It is a silence speaks of mystery and leaves way for the Word of God to resound. 

To us today: You, who do the will of God, you are my brother and sister and mother!