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Scriptures & Message for 2nd Sunday After Pentecost – June 6th, 2021
First Reading – Genesis 3:8-15
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to Himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Gospel – Mark 3:20-35
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples were not even able to eat. When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.” So Jesus called them over to Him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they told Him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for You.”
“Who are My mother and My brothers?” he asked.
Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s will is My brother and sister and mother.” ____________________________________________________________________
Toss Your Cap Over the Wall
I want to begin with a basketball story. It is about Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest professional basketball player of all time. One night he scored sixty-nine points in a single game.
In that same game, rookie Stacey King made his inauspicious debut. He shot one free throw and made it. After the final buzzer, a reporter asked King for his thoughts on the game. Stacey King, with tongue planted firmly in his cheek, replied: “I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.”
Well, I guess that is one way to look at it.
President John F. Kennedy’s hero was his grandfather, and he loved to hear stories about his grandfather’s boyhood in Ireland. One of these stories concerned how Grandfather Fitzgerald used to walk home from school each day with a group of friends. Sometimes these boys would challenge each other to climb over the stone walls along the lanes of the countryside.
However, there were times when young Fitzgerald and the other boys were sometimes hesitant to dare the hazardous climbs. So they devised a way to motivate themselves to take the risk involved: they would toss their caps over the wall. You see, they knew that they dare not go home without their caps, so then they had to climb over the walls to get them. They tossed their caps over the wall as a way of motivating themselves to take a risk.
There are times when all of us long to toss our caps over the wall. There are times when we hunger in our own way for the heroic whether we want to change jobs, start our own business, go back to school, or whatever. There come those times in life when we feel the need to make a change.
I know of one young man who decided to make such a change. He was thirty years old at the time, and he owned a successful small business which had been left to him by his father. He was secure, he was liked and respected by his friends and neighbors, and he was meeting his responsibilities. But he knew that this was not where he belonged. He felt called to a ministry a ministry of teaching and preaching and healing. And so, he threw his cap over the wall.
At first, he met with spectacular success, and his reputation spread with amazing speed. But as his popularity increased, so did the number of his critics, especially in his hometown. Some of his closest friends tried to dissuade him from his insanity, and his family was also concerned for him. But he persevered in his new calling for three years, only to die an untimely death.
As he hung on a tree between two thieves dying a cruel and unjust death, feeling forsaken by both God and man no one would have judged his life to be a success. But it was. It was the most successful life ever lived. For all of this took place around Nazareth more than 2000 years ago. Jesus tossed his cap over the wall, and you and I are thankful that he did. He modeled for us what the life of adventure should truly be.
Of course, no one has ever accomplished anything of note without critics. Toss your cap over a wall and you learn very quickly who your true friends are.
Winston Churchill was one of the most criticized politicians who ever lived. But he knew how to handle his detractors.
Perhaps the most famous of Churchill’s exchanges was one he had at a state dinner with Nancy Astor, whose own reputation for acid wit and instant repartee was considerable.
During this dinner Lady Astor was compelled to listen to Churchill expound his views on a great number of subjects, all of them at variance with her own strongly held views. Finally, no longer able to hold her tongue, she spat, “Winston, if you were my husband, I would flavor your coffee with poison.”
To which Churchill immediately replied, “Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.”
No one accomplishes anything of note without critics. Certainly, Jesus had his critics. In today’s lesson from Mark’s Gospel Jesus is still in the early part of his ministry. However, people are starting to take note of him. He has chosen his twelve disciples who will carry on the work after he is gone, and the crowds are growing larger. Momentum is building toward a magnificent ministry.
But almost immediately he runs into opposition. First, it was from his own family. Mark tells us that when Jesus’ family heard about what was happening, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Can you imagine that? Jesus’ family wanted him to shut down his ministry and come home. Isn’t this the way life is? Sometimes it is those closest to us who have the hardest time coming to grips with our dreams and aspirations. Often husbands and wives especially have problems because of this.
In Jesus’ case, it was the teachers of the law who had come down from Jerusalem. With a poisonous sneer they greeted his teachings like this, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
That is the way life is. Start to make waves and somebody will try to wrest the oars out of your hands by belittling your work. One author has called this the “Salk Theory.”
Jonas Salk, that great Doctor of Medicine who pioneered polio research and discovered the Polio Vaccine, had a legion of critics he dealt with over the years. At one point, he made an interesting observation about the nature of criticism, which seems to hold true for any person who is successfully innovative.
“First,” he said, “people will tell you that you are wrong. Then they will tell you that you are right, but what you are doing really is not important. Finally, they will admit that you are right and that what you are doing is especially important; but after all, they knew it all the time.”
Of course the greatest adventure that one can start out on the most spectacular, and often the most courageous change that can be made in a life is that of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it time for some of us to toss our cap over the wall? A certain high jumper was referring to a world record he set in his sport. He said he threw his heart over the bar and the rest of him followed. Perhaps you and I need to throw our hearts over the altar, so that we may follow.
It is exciting to read about the early days of Jesus’ ministry. He had his critics, of course. But he never let them detract him from his call. Jesus’ life is a challenge to our lives. It is time for us to toss our cap over the wall as well.