11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Bulletin Reflection by Gabriel Mayhugh
Today's reading tell us much about sin. From the fall of Adam and Eve, to the Psalmist crying for mercy, and Christ becoming the victim of accusation and name calling. Sin has become something of a norm for us in public discourse. We have experienced a crisis in truth over the past years. Facts have been challenged with “alternative facts,” science has been denied, and lies are so prevalent in our political and social media spheres that finding the truth is hardly easy. We have also seen an erosion of what is appropriate public decorum in the rhetoric that comes from our leaders. Profanity, name calling, racist statements, lies, and a myriad of other actions that were once deemed inappropriate are now a great way to grab attention and easily divide people. All of these actions are sinful, but yet we seem to have a hard time naming them as sins. Sin has almost become elusive in our world. Right from wrong is more determined by criminal punishment and law enforcement rather than the expected appropriate actions of simply being one human being relating to another human being. On top of that we even hide sin behind ideologies and patriotism. Calling immigrants animals and racist actions against someone because of the color of their skin are simply sinful actions. Destroying the environment in the name of profit and manipulating facts are sinful actions. Yet this has become so prevalent that it is even accepted by some Christians as being done appropriately in the name of Christ. These sins and lies ultimately lead to division, hate, and even war.
There are those who are ridiculed and condemned because they try to prevent sin or seek to tell the truth. We have become merciless and skeptical of practically everything that people do in the name of goodness simply because the waters are so muddied with lies. Think of the amount of name calling and snap judgements that have lead us to the current world where we live. Even prophetic messengers can be cast aside as liars simply because their facts don’t line up with another person’s beliefs. This is what we see in today’s Gospel.
In the Gospel, Jesus is beginning his public ministry and is shaking things up. He has cast out demons and is challenging the law. People are uncomfortable and when they are uncomfortable they often resort to denial and simple name calling. They call him “out of his mind” and even a demon. Christ probably did seem out of his mind to those around him. He engaged with those who are sinners, he ate with them, and he gravitated to all the outcasts in society. Surely this would have embarrassed his family and angered anyone else who wanted to keep with the norms of the time. Christ quickly dispels the name calling and points to the greater good that all believers are his family. We too are called to the life that he modeled. To make the uneasy decisions and to shake things up as he would have in the name of truth, mercy, and love.
In today’s time it seems easier to think only of one’s self and to lie and condemn rather than embrace others. If we are to stand as a house united as Christians who stand for Christ-like actions than much is demanded of us in our troubling times. We are being called to act differently than those around us, to dig deeper into what is truth and to seek actions that are non-sinful. There are false-prophets among us. Those who would rather hate and those who sin and even do it in Christ’s name. But Christ shows us a different way. He calls us to love radically, not to hate radically. To see others as ourselves, and not as animals. To make of our lives a home where even sinners can find the embrace of truth and love.