Are you an “in-ie” or an “out-ie”? No, I am not talking about your belly button
Do you remember the scene in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived as Jesus was seated in a circle, surrounded by his disciples? When he was made aware that they were outside, he remarked, ”Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle [inside the house] he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”1
Once again I ask, “Are you an ‘in-ie’ or an ‘out-ie’?”
I would like to consider myself inside Jesus’ circle of disciples. But occasionally I don’t do the will of God, placing me outside. Most, if not all of us, find ourselves many times going back and forth. We are field full of mostly wheat and more than a few weeds that we would like to have pulled out. But sometimes the weed looks like a stalk of wheat when it first sprouts; and, sometimes it grows so close to the wheat that attempting to pull it out would at the very least damage the wheat. (I was weeding my garden with a cultivator and I disturbed a tomato plant and a stalk of corn I recently planted. I quickly replanted them. The tomato plant flourished but the corn, not so much.) But God is patient, allowing both to grow until the final harvest. God knows that if sinners are cast out now, some of them who are basically good will also be cast out with no chance of growing in their goodness.
Not only that, God realizes that our life of faith is a process. It is like a tiny mustard seed that full grown is a nesting place for birds. Or like a small amount of yeast that leavens a large amount of flour.
The other readings are a source of amazement as we live a life of faith and trust. They reveal that God wants so badly, so deeply, for us to be redeemed that God judges with clemency and with much lenience and has given us good ground for hope that God would permit repentance for our sins (Wisdom 12:18-19); and that the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness when we don’t know how to pray, interceding for us with inexpressible groanings (Romans 8:26).
And so we proclaim: Lord, we praise you; for you are “loving and forgiving.”2
1 Mark 3:33b-35
2 Loving and Forgiving, Scott Soper, Text and music ©1992, OCP.