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June 10, 2018

The first reading of this Sunday mentions the encounter between God, Adam and Eve after they sinned against God.  Someone sent me 10 reasons why God made Eve.  1. God worried that Adam would always be lost in the garden because men hate to ask for directions. 2. God knew that Adam would one day need someone to hand him the TV remote. (Men don't want to see what's ON television, they want to see WHAT ELSE is on!). 3. God knew that Adam would never buy a new fig leaf when his old leaf wore out and would therefore need Eve to get one for him. 4. God knew that Adam would never make a doctor's appointment for himself. 5. God knew that Adam would never remember which day was garbage-day.  6. God knew that if the world was to be populated, men would never be able to handle childbearing. 7. As 'Keeper of the Garden', Adam would never remember where he put his tools. 8. As the Bible says, 'It is not good for man to be alone!' 9. When God finished the creation of Adam, He stepped back, scratched His head and said, 'I can do better than that.' 10. Most important: The scripture account of creation indicates Adam needed someone to blame his troubles on when God caught him hiding in the garden.

The readings of this Sunday may raise 3 questions in your mind: (1) Adam said that he hid himself because he was naked. Why was he embarrassed by his nakedness? (2) Jesus said that all sins can be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Spirit. What are these? (3) If Mary was always a virgin, then who were those brothers and sisters?

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 command. 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 noted 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.  Adam (and we) fail to recognize the sublime authority and holiness of God.

The religious leaders in the Gospel made the same mistake.  They accused Jesus' good works as coming from the devil. Refusing to see the ultimate authority and holiness of God is a 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 leaders and Jesus’ family, they would at least have recognized some form of goodness in Jesus' works. But they exposed themselves as nothing spiritual.

In the same reading Jesus is not afraid to expose himself for who he was. His family thought that he had to be out of his mind to take on the 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 as he took on the leaders. The notion of “family” in the East may include parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins and sometimes the next door neighbor. Jesus was not afraid to expose himself for who he was. If revealing himself, exposing himself meant death, then he would die so the world might experience the presence of God. St. Paul in today's second reading 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 must speak out in the face of evil which is still working really hard. That is the reason why the Catholic Church is not afraid to take on what may not be popular, but what is 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?