After the Ascension, a string of solemnities followed: Pentecost, the Most Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ. Last Friday and Saturday we celebrated the Solemnities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. And today is the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time[1] when we will live in the light of the Paschal Mystery and the Mystery of the Church, until the last Sunday in Ordinary Time,[2] which hails Christ, the Universal King.

Remarkably close on the heels of that Marian Solemnity, we hear in the First Reading (Gen 3: 9-15) about how Adam and Eve lost their friendship with God. Original Sin reduced them to mere mortals and generated more sin. Soon, God reprimanded Satan who was in the guise of a serpent: ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’

The serpent has ever since been loathsome to humankind; only the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘his’ became a bone of contention. Whereas masculine pronouns appear in the Hebrew text which St Jerome followed for his edition of the Vulgate, many early Fathers and some later editions of the Vulgate, used ‘she’ and ‘her’ instead. Since the first half of the verse clearly applied to Mary, the second half followed suit… So, was it through a mere copyist’s error that Mary was given the ‘credit’?

Pope John Paul II crushes our petty thinking by stating that Mary’s enmity towards Satan was absolute. He perceptively adds: ‘This [Hebrew] text then does not attribute the victory over Satan to Mary but to her Son. Nevertheless, since the biblical concept establishes a profound solidarity between the parent and the offspring, the depiction of the Immaculata crushing the serpent, not by her own power but through the grace of her Son, is consistent with the original meaning of the passage.’[3]

Thanks to Mary’s wholehearted participation in the economy of salvation, the Incarnation became a reality; then, she became the New Eve and He, the New Adam. In today’s Gospel text (Mk 3: 20-35), the New Adam announced the end of Satan. This came in response to some friends who had thought He was beside Himself while the scribes had had the audacity to accuse Jesus of colluding with Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Jesus retorted: ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? … And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.’ The backstory is that His enemies could not stomach the miraculous cures Jesus had wrought; He had also given the Twelve power to expel demons (Cf. Mk 3: 13-19).

Even in the midst of such turbulence, Jesus utters words of infinite love: ‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin – for they had said, He has an unclean spirit.’ The sin against the Holy Spirit here is the hatred that prompts a person to attribute to the devil an act that is manifestly the work of the Holy Spirit. By his culpable obstinacy and blindness, the person declines divine forgiveness and salvation.

Such is the magnitude of that sin and the inescapability of punishment; personal relations and favours can do nothing. And does Jesus seem offensive to His Mother? No. In fact, He calls us to be like her, who uniquely said, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.’ And Jesus twice refers to her in that verse: as one who gave Him birth and does God’s will!

A true relationship with God can be secured only by believing and trusting in Him. Thankfully, ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, and mother’ is a sign of hope to us all. In the Second Reading (2 Cor 4: 13; 15: 1), St Paul says that ‘we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us… So, we do not lose heart.’ Jesus is that life coach par excellence, who gives us hope as no other can. Our years may waste away, but not so our soul, which is ‘renewed every day.’ Similarly, our earthly existence is a ‘slight momentary affliction’, insignificant when compared with the ‘eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’ awaits us.

In conclusion, a supernatural approach to life is of the essence. We ought to see that, when ‘the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’ Here, there are never contradictions between the Father and the Son, there is no enmity between the Mother and the Son. The only one who is on the other side is the Serpent, set to rob us of our Salvation: He must be crushed!


[1] 7 January 2024 was the First Sunday in Ordinary Time (coinciding with the Epiphany of Our Lord) and 11 February 2024, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The series of Sundays in Ordinary Time was suspended from 18 February 2024, which was the first Sunday of Lent, up to 19 May 2024, which was the Sunday of Pentecost. The series of Sundays in Ordinary resumed on 19 May 2024, the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, on which Pentecost was celebrated. The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26 May 2024, was dedicated to the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the Ninth, 2 June 2024, to the Body and Blood of Christ.

[2] 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 24 November 2024.