Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Exposing Ourselves as Christians
Today's readings present three incidents which are often discussed in religious circles. The first is the way that Adam was caught by God after he sinned. Adam said that he hid himself because he was naked. Why–why was he embarrassed by his nakedness? The second incident is in the Gospel where Jesus said that all sins can be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Spirit. What are these? The third incident is also in the Gospel, the references to the mother and the brothers and sisters of the Lord. If Mary was always a virgin, then who were those brothers and sisters? Perhaps these three topics, the nakedness of Adam, the sin against the Holy Spirit, and the mother and brothers and sisters of the Lord, do not appear to be related. But they are if we consider these readings from the viewpoint of sincerity and living our faith.
Adam's sin is revealed because he hides himself. In the beautiful anthropomorphic (God taking on the form of a human being) imagery of the creation stories, God looks for Adam in the Garden. Adam tells God that he hid because he was naked. This really is not about nudity. God created the body and therefore it is beautiful, not something that Adam had to hide from God. No, this is about being exposed before the Lord. Adam was revealed as proud. He wanted to be like God. Adam was self centered. His desires were more important than God's will. He was disobedient. God could not tell him what he could or could not do. Then, at the fall, Adam recognized what he was really like, proud, self centered and disobedient. He was exposed before God. He was naked. He hid himself. Even during God's questioning, Adam refused to take the blame for his actions. According to Adam, it was Eve's fault. Adam even notes that God was responsible for creating Eve. Adam's nakedness was even further revealed. It is sad, but we can look into the depths of Adam's nakedness and see our own refusal to submit to God's will as well as our own rationalization for the things we do wrong.
The scribes in the Gospel were also exposed for whom they were. The scribes were people who used religion for their own ends. They were not spiritual. They accused Jesus' good works as coming from the devil. Refusing to see the holiness of the Lord is the sin against the Holy Spirit. This is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. God cannot forgive someone who believes that God does not have the power to forgive him. If there was anything spiritual at all about the scribes, they would at least have recognized some form of goodness in Jesus' works. But there was nothing spiritual about them.
In the same reading Jesus is not afraid to expose himself for whom he was. His family thought that he had to be out of his mind to take on the scribes and leaders of the Jews. That was a quick way to death. Why would Jesus do this? Jesus was not afraid to say what he believed, to do what had to be done. Jesus' family is presented here as coming to try to dissuade Jesus from his public action. This phrase, since it also mentions the mother and brothers of Jesus, is often taken out of context, particularly by non-Catholics who use this as a basis to argue about the virginity of Mary. In the context of scripture, Jesus' family, and that's all, his family, are presented as concerned that he was getting himself into trouble. A common person had to be crazy to take on the intelligentia of the nation. Jesus was not afraid to expose himself for who he was. If revealing himself, exposing himself meant death, then he would die sot he world might experience the presence of God.
St. Paul paraphrases Psalm 116 in today's second reading when he says, we believe and so we speak out. This is what Jesus did. That is what Christians must do. Our actions must expose our commitment to the Kingdom of God. We have to speak out in the face of evil. That is the reason why our bishops are not afraid to take which may not be popular, but which are moral. If we don't stand up for morality, for the truth, then we would not be faithful to whom we are, or at least whom we are trying to become.
Like Adam, we all stand naked before the Lord. Do we have to hide ourselves, or do we want the Lord to see us exactly as we are? Today we pray that our spirit and our actions may be exposed as actions of people committed to the Kingdom of God.