Bible Reflection (9 June 2024)

10th Sunday Year B

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

God is looking for me. Do I go to Him? Or do I hide from Him?

My brothers and sisters, have we ever asked ourselves: Am I lost in life? And if I am, like the one lost sheep among 99 (Lk 15:4-6), is God lovingly looking for me? How have I responded to God? Do I want to be found? In other words, have I gone to Him, or have I hidden away?

This was precisely what Adam faced in the First Reading this week. After he disobeyed God and broke His commandment, God lovingly looked for Adam: “the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ (verse 9). But although he heard God, Adam chose to hide himself from God. “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (verse 10) Why did Adam hid himself? Because he broke God’s commandment, he became ashamed of his nakedness. How about me? Because of shame and guilt, do that as well? In the First Reading, when God confronted Adam about his disobedience, Adam did not own up. He blamed the person closest to him, his wife Eve. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” (verse 12) So, from hiding away from God, Adam progressed to looking for someone else to blame? Don’t we do that as well? At this point, Adam was not even thinking of Eve being his life-partner. She was simply “the woman whom you gave to be with me”. Alas, like Adam, Eve did not owe up to her failings either. When confronted, she blamed the serpent: “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” (verse 13) My brothers and sisters, indeed, we often behave no differently to Adam and Eve. We humankind are fallen beings. And we often compound one sin upon another, losing more hope and more joy as we sink deeper and deeper into the abyss. That was why upon hearing the man and woman compounding sins upon sins, God promised them a future saviour. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (verse 15) Theologians call this the protoevangelium, that is, it is the first Good News, the first Gospel.

Because of our sins, death came into the world: “for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19) And this is not just physical death but spiritual death. My brothers and sisters, the truth is, we experience death in our lives all the time. The death we experience is not just physical death, that is, friends and loved ones who pass away; but we also experience spiritual death. We experience spiritual death in people around us, we even experience in our own lives. For example, have I ever felt that even I am physically alive, I am not alive inside? Were there times I am ridden with guilt, shame, sorrows or regrets? Were there times I question the meaning and goals of my life? In truth, these are manifestation of spiritual death. Spiritual death came about because of disobedience to God – our disobedience and others’. It came about because of sins – ours and others’.

So, what is the Good News offered by God in the protoevangelium; and what is the saviour going to do for us? Jesus brings life. And if we are experiencing spiritual death in our lives, He makes us alive again. In the Second Reading, St Paul wrote, “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence” (verse 4:14) And even though physical death is still with us, Jesus continues to renew us from the inside: “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (verse 4:15) And eventually, even physical death is no more: “for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (verse 4:18-5:1). Or as St Paul wrote elsewhere: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) This is Good News. But this Good News will not come to us if we hide away from God like Adam did.

Indeed, just because we are promised a future in eternity does not mean we would make the right choice to get there. In the Gospel this week, we read that as soon as Jesus appointed His twelve Apostles and started imparting His teachings upon the Apostles (Mk 3:14-19), people started to attack and discredit them. They said: “He has gone out of his mind.” (verse 21) The scribes even claimed that Jesus is under the influence of the devil: “He has Beelzebul” (verse 22). Hence, my friends, we have arrived at a crossroad: Am I going to follow Jesus, even if it means being disowned and ridiculed by the world? Or am I going to go with the world? So my brothers and sisters, we ask ourselves: What is my choice? Do I go to God; or do I hide myself? Do I choose Jesus and be prepared to suffer the world’s taunts; or do I choose death and be reconciled to the world? It is a stark choice. To choose Jesus often means to be disowned by the world. But in doing so, I will be claimed by Jesus as one who is closest to Him. It is as Jesus said in the Gospel this week, as He revealed who the ones closest to him: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (verse 33) “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (verse 35) Let us reflect on this for this week. May the Holy Spirit guides as we do so. Amen.