Mark 3:20-35

Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered — so many making demands on him that there wasn’t even time to eat. His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.

The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumours that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.

“Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.

Just then his mother and brothers showed up. Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.” Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Gospel Reflection

Is there an unforgivable sin? Jesus says that it is blasphemous and unforgivable to call the work of God evil and to accuse God’s representative as an agent of Satan. But in truth, all sin is forgivable as long as the sinner is sincerely repentant. But sometimes people may become so consumed with darkness and evil that they have no desire to repent. In this part of today’s Gospel, Jesus issues a stern warning against aligning ourselves with Satan.

Regarding what some perceive as Jesus being rude to his mother, scholars tell us that Jesus wanted to communicate that the bond among his disciples is closer and more important than the bond among blood relatives. The closest relative of Jesus is he/she who hears his word and acts on it. No one did this better than Mary who is often called the “first disciple.”