Families, Part Two

For 22 January 2024, In the United States: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children Children, based on Mark 3:22, 28–30

(Image: Logo of Saint Francis of Assisi parish, Johnstown Pennsylvania)

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” …

Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”


Today, we continue in Chapter 3 of St. Mark. On Saturday, we heard these verses from Mark 3:20–21: “Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” I appreciated what my Dominican brother Clint Honkomp said on Saturday about how even Jesus experienced suffering because of his extended family. When they saw all the people gathering around Jesus in need of healing, Jesus’s extended family thought Jesus was out of his mind. Clint also spoke about the trauma so often experienced from generation to generation in our extended families. Even though a family should be a community of love, Clint acknowledged in his preaching that family life can be a source of sorrow and hurt for most of us. And yet, as Clint observed in his preaching, Jesus experienced this kind of family suffering; he endured and redeemed it.
As a boy, everyone in my extended family was Catholic or Presbyterian. Two generations later, we are Catholic, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Greek Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, megachurch Evangelical, Assemblies of God, and Muslim.
As you may know from experience, this religious diversification of families can often lead to fragmentation, misunderstanding, suffering, and even condemnation. Nonetheless, today’s passage, which continues from Chapter 3 of Mark’s Gospel, invites us to see the power of the Holy Spirit in the faith, hope, and love of our relatives who follow different religious paths than our own.
In today’s Gospel passage, the scribes made a grave mistake by seeing Jesus’s healing works as the devil’s work. Do not make the same mistake of blaspheming the Holy Spirit at work in the religious devotion of other members of your family—even when their spiritual path causes you pain or confusion. Love one another in your extended family, and invite the Holy Spirit to be ever more present in the religious devotion of your relatives. God loves and longs to be a driving spiritual force at work in each of us.

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.