Jesus was having a really bad day.  The crowd was so big that he and his disciples couldn’t even eat.  His relatives were out to seize him, saying, “He is out of his mind.”  The scribes claimed that “he is possessed by Beelzebul.”  And then, his mother and his brothers arrived.  Who knows what they were up to. 

But Jesus was unfazed.  He knew what he was up to.  If you were to read the Gospel of Mark just before the passage we heard today, you would see that Jesus had been busy building up God’s kingdom wherever he went, curing those who came to him, expelling unclean spirits and appointing apostles from the crowds who followed him.  As you will recall from the beginning of Mark’s gospel, the very first words out of Jesus’ mouth were: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  Jesus came to draw all people together into God’s kingdom, a kingdom of peace united in God’s love.

So, it must have pained him terribly when he experienced the turmoil and division with the leaders of his own faith community and even his own family out to get him.  God, who is a communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit living in love – as celebrated just two weeks ago – longs for us to live in a community of love.  Disunity is the antithesis of God.  We hear Jesus proclaim that very clearly in today’s passage when he counters the scribes’ claim that “he is possessed by Beelzebul.  By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”  His response is, “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  Unfortunately, we are experiencing that in our own nation, around the world and perhaps in our own homes.  Rather than working toward unity and community, so many in our country and the world are causing dissension and division.

We see that this begins with our first parents, Adam and Eve.  Rather than remaining united with God who has given them everything they need, they side with the serpent, who represents Satan, who tempts them away from God.  Instead of putting their trust in God who has cared for their every need, they rely on the great divider, the devil.  Do you know where our English word, “devil,” comes from?  It comes from the Greek phrase, δια-βάλλω, which means to “make a quarrel between,” or “to deceive by false accounts.”  That’s the role of the devil: to make a quarrel between us and God and to deceive us with false accounts to tear us away from God.  That’s exactly what the devil did.  He incited Adam and Eve to quarrel with God’s prohibition to eat from just one tree – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

Oh, how we would love to definitively be able to distinguish good from evil.  But that belongs to God.  He has given us free will and it wouldn’t really be free will if we definitely knew what was good and what was evil.  If we did, we would always seek only what is good; we wouldn’t have free will.  So, we are called to listen to God’s truth and not quarrel with him; after all, he who is God is all good and always knows what is good for us.

That’s the truth that Jesus taught as he introduced the kingdom of God.  That’s what led his relatives to declare, “He is out of his mind.”  That’s what got him in trouble with some of the Jewish leaders of his time.  His relatives knew he would get in trouble with the Jewish leaders, who were living their own truth as they colluded with the Romans and charged their own people exorbitant taxes that allowed them to live very comfortable lives as their people suffered in poverty.  

Today’s readings are presented to us today with a twofold message.  First of all, we are all reminded that just as God sent his Son into the world to proclaim the truth of God’s love and care for all people, he sends us into the world to continue to teach and live this eternal truth.  And, just as Jesus encountered naysayers and doubters, we should not be surprised when we are faced with opposition.  Second, we are encouraged to recognize that God, who raised his son, Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus.  As we hear Saint Paul declare so clearly in today’s second reading, this causes “thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.”  God made us for his glory and he will bestow his grace upon us in abundance so that we will be able to endure any affliction in this life as we prepare to enjoy his glory forever in the next.  As St. Paul goes on to explain, “if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed,” and it will for each of us, “we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.”  Let us always keep our final goal in mind and, like Jesus, be unperturbed in living and proclaiming this eternal truth.  This will make us, as Jesus assures us in today’s Gospel, his brother and sister and mother, and assure us of a share in what St. Paul describes as “glory beyond all comparison,” that is, heaven.