Stand up and be Counted (OT 10 Year B)

Genesis 3:9-15

2 Cor 4:13-5:1 OT10 Year B (if Easter is early!)

Mark 3:20-35

Today’s readings highlight two primitive human responses:

1. The urge to blame someone else – “Who me? No, it was him!” The ‘pass the buck’ – not invented here syndrome.

2. The fear of authority – police, doctors, dentists – any kind of authority strikes fear into the hearts of the most hardened. We revert to being a child!

For many Catholics (not here of course!) the priest is little more than God incarnate. “Yes Father, whatever you say Father” or, more subtly, “better ask Father first!”

In the first reading, the Lord God called to the man: “Where are you?” and the man replied “I was afraid because I was naked so I hid!” Is this a case of “who me guv, you didn’t mean me guv…” Who told you were naked?” says God.

Ask anyone today, or indeed throughout history, to describe the events in the Garden of Eden and you will get pictures or descriptions of Adam & Eve attempting to hide behind various types of leaves! The story has nothing to do with being naked or unclothed. It is about exposure, but in the sense of vulnerability. The man is cornered by God. He has no hiding place, he is exposed; he is vulnerable. At which point he makes his first characteristic blunder! Instead of owning up, standing his ground or having the courage of his convictions, he blames someone else!

“It was her! He says “she gave me the fruit!” Not only was it “her”, but it was the women you gave me!” God’s fault! Adam is passing the buck to God….

God confronts the women. “What is this you have done?” he says. Eve, also cornered, blames the serpent! I wonder what would have happened if the serpent had blamed the worm he had just eaten inside the apple!!

God is not taken in by all this ‘buck passing’. Because the representatives of humankind fail to have the courage of their convictions, right or wrong, they are severely censured and we have been living under the shadow of that censure ever since. Some would call this “original sin”. Whatever way you think of it we remain unable, it seems, to stand our ground.

Paul, in the second reading, says: “I believed, and therefore I spoke!” Christ also believed, and he certainly spoke out!

You may be unfamiliar with today’s readings. The last time anyone heard them read in church was the best part of 20 years ago. (I would like to think that someone noticed. “Who me, Bob…?)

Christ spoke out and where did it get him! “Beelzebub is in him” and “it is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out!” Mark tells us that even Jesus’ own family did not understand. His relatives were convinced that he was out of his mind. Was Jesus, ironically, the first of whom St Paul called “fools for the sake of Christ” A prophet, it is said, is never believed in his own land. If we were to stand up and be counted, where we are today, now – in our own community – what would people think?

We are Christ to the world we live in, each one of us. Christ is not “out there” somewhere doing good things. You are Christ. “Who, me guv?”

“Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.” That person is Christ. The ultimate original sin is to duck that responsibility. Stand up and be counted!

Of course, no one wants to feel naked, exposed and vulnerable. The temptation in the Garden of Eden to leave it to someone else is still with us.

“We have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture” says St Paul. “I believed and therefore I spoke.” Do we also believe and therefore should not we too speak out? It is our mission, our calling, our responsibility as stewards of the Kingdom to take Christ to the world. Don’t be surprised if the world thinks we are mad also. “Fools for the sake of Christ!”

No one said it would be easy. Stand up and be counted. It matters if we pass the buck by saying, in effect, “not me Lord, I have nothing to offer.” Let the Lord decide that!

Stand up and be counted!

© Bob Birtles 2011