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10th Sunday in OT (B)

MARK 3:20–35

By Felix Edinborough

“Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the Church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility.” This opening excerpt is from an article in The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

This came to my mind when I read the gospel for this weekend where we saw that a crowd gathered to hear Jesus, but His relatives were “convinced he was out of his mind”.

The newspaper report goes on to say, “The most senior clergy in the Church – believe that the pope is flirting with heresy.” These were the people closest to him and could be considered akin to his relatives of the gospel.

The scribes also accused Jesus saying, “It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.” To this accusation Jesus wisely retorts, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”

We know the dictum that states that an effective way of putting out a blaze is to fight fire with fire, but when we do this both sides are destroyed. The more practical way is to fight it with water, the opposite.

It is the same with sin; we do not get rid of wrongdoing by revenge but by repentance. We fight sin by good works which is the opposite of wrongdoing. We recall the examples of Pope St John Paul II who forgave the man who attempted to assassinate him, and Immaculée Ilibagiza the Rwandan who pardoned the army officer who hacked members of her family to death.  Information from her biography states: “After the genocide, Immaculée came face-to-face with the man who killed her mother and one of her brothers… Immaculée was still able to offer the unthinkable, telling the man, ‘I forgive you’.”

We know that in our relationships with friends and family, it is when we forgive that our friendship and trust are renewed. When we fight those who have wronged us with vengeance, matters just get worse and we become divided. It is with love that we cast out hatred.

It happens, too, that when we continue sinning and repeating the same wrong over and over, we begin to think that it is ‘no big thing’. Indeed, after a time, we see nothing wrong with it, so we never repent nor confess it.

Those who steal constantly, after a time feel no guilt, and since these deeds are never repented for, they are never forgiven by the Holy Spirit who is forever ready to forgive us.

The perpetual repetition of a fault, especially a grave fault, with no guilt or repentance, will mean there is no forgiveness by the Holy Spirit and there is the feeling that the Holy Spirit cannot intervene.

That is why Jesus warns us that: “I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness…”

Those who live totally against the teachings of Jesus, even those close to Him and think Him out of His mind, those who live contrary to what Jesus teaches, to love one another just as He has loved us, are living a life of wrongdoing.

It is those who live according to what He teaches who are really the ones close to Him, and to whom He says: “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”



Lord, we thank You for all those who, like Pope St John Paul II and Immaculée, have shown us the example of forgiveness even when greatly wronged.

We ask forgiveness for those times and for those of us who sought revenge when we thought we were wronged. 

We ask You to send us people who can influence our lives and lead us to understand fully Your commandment of love.

May we through our faithful observance of Your teachings be called Your “brother and sister and mother.”


Felix Edinborough is a retired secondary school teacher and a parishioner of St Anthony’s, Petit Valley.