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Seduction, Sin and Redemption | Gospel of June 9

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Gospel according to Saint Mark 3,20-35:

They went home. The crowd began to gather again and they couldn’t even have a meal. Knowing what was happening his relatives came to take charge of him: «He is out of his mind», they said.
The teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem said, «He is possessed by Beelzebub: the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons». Jesus called them to him and began teaching them by means of stories or parables, «How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished. No one can break into the house of the Strong one in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the Strong one. Then indeed, he can plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven: he carries the guilt of his sin forever».This was their sin when they said, «He has an evil spirit in him».

Jesus’ mother and brothers came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told him, «Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you». He replied, «Who are my mother and my brothers?». And looking around at those who sat there he said, «Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me».

Seduction, Sin and Redemption

Luis CASASUS President of the Idente Missionaries

Rome, June 09, 2024 | X Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gen 3: 9-15; 2Cor 4: 13—5,1; Mk 3: 20-35

An anecdote is told of American President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) with one of his aides. He asked him the following question: If you call a tail a “leg”, how many legs does a horse have? His aide answered: Five. Lincoln replied: No. It is four. Calling a tail a “leg” does not make it a leg.

In today’s Gospel story something similar occurs, although much more dramatic: the good that Christ does, freeing people from the slavery of sin, is described as a service to Satan and as madness.

Something similar would happen later to the deacon Stephen, who dedicated himself to charity with the poor and to transmitting the Gospel, insisting that Christ did not come to eliminate the Law or tradition, making a clear speech that ends like this:

Hard of neck and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you have always resisted the Holy Spirit. Like your fathers, so have you. What prophet did not your fathers persecute? They put to death those who proclaimed the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have betrayed and crucified; you who received by the ministry of angels the Law, you did not keep it.

But he was immediately stoned, being accused, precisely… of blasphemy.

How is it possible that we are capable of calling white what is black and beautiful what is abominable? How can we identify Christ with a diabolical possessed person?

The First Reading gives us an answer: original sin, which we have inherited, leads us to see innocent nakedness as something shameful; forbidden fruit as the most desirable; the worst evil, as the best. Probably the most accurate explanation of sin, based on personal experience, is in Eve’s confession to Yahweh when she asks why she ate the forbidden fruit: The serpent seduced me and I ate.

The word “seduction” comes from the Latin seducere or to draw away. From there we could easily think of mislead, a pejorative connotation of the word that evokes the sirens, who lure sailors to the rocks, as happens in Homer’s Odyssey, where they try to lure Odysseus and his sailors to their deaths. We think, for example, of the young Salome, seducing Herod with her dance to get the head of St. John the Baptist.

And it is true that we are often seduced by something or someone different from us, exotic, someone somehow out of our reach, someone who seems somewhat distant and removed. Great beauty, of course, great power or some form of wealth attracts us, and we wish to vicariously bask in the glow of someone else’s fame and fortune or use it in some way for our own advancement. For some, intelligence can also be a great source of attraction and seduction.

That is why the devil’s temptation of Adam and Eve was… perfect, complete. Not only did he use a forbidden object, but he promised that couple that they would take the place of God: You will be equal to Him, you will know good and evil (Gen 3: 5).

What was disobedience to the one who loves us, appears as triumph. Thus, what is sin is interpreted as liberation, even as a merciful act. This is the well-known manipulation of language to argue that abortion is a “reproductive right” or an act of mercy towards women, or that homosexual practices or adultery are simply “alternative lifestyles”.

Adam already considered God an enemy, so he hid himself. So that God would not hinder the awkward choices of his freedom.

What happened to Adam is the same thing that happens to us today: instead of confessing his fault he blames Eve. Instead of asking for forgiveness, he lives in ill-concealed remorse. In this way, there can be neither forgiveness nor reconciliation. And, let us not forget: he blasphemes, saying that God was wrong to give him the woman for a companion.

If we ask ourselves what is most seductive in another person, it is not always that they push us away or lead us astray, but rather the opposite: Someone who leads us to understand ourselves better, to tell us who we really are, someone who seems to understand us and recognize our uniqueness and what we have to offer the world, someone who encourages us in our endeavors. Seduction so often lies in someone’s interest in us, a seemingly sincere interest, someone’s understanding of our dreams and desires.

I remember how a mom shared the heartbreaking question her deaf daughter once asked her. She looked at her with her big eyes and asked, as if she should know the answer: What makes someone admired? What do I have to do to be loved by the other children?

That mom knew that the kids at school often looked down on her. She was different, she did not always understand what they or the teacher said. They would not invite her to their parties, and sometimes the other kids would pass her notes saying You’re silly! So the mom caught her breath, thought for a moment, and then said: Ask them questions about themselves. Take an interest in them, help them if you can… hard lessons for a nine-year-old to grasp. Yet she grasped them and, unexpectedly, became one of excellent listener, even though she had to read lips…or maybe because she did that.

So perhaps this is the most important element of a positive and evangelically seductive person, someone who can be called an apostle: the ability to make us feel special and, ultimately, happy. Someone who does not boast of his achievements, nor wants to be admired, but listens modestly to those of his neighbor. Someone who is able to really listen to what we have to say and who seems to understand; who laughs at our jokes, who comes to share an important part of his life with us, someone who is willing to offer his time to make us feel loved, even if he doesn’t have the solution to all our problems.


Christ mentions the terrible sin against the Holy Spirit, which he says has an eternal penalty. It is not that God’s mercy is limited, but he is suggesting the possibility we have of rejecting divine grace and forgiveness.

It may be helpful to recall the traditional doctrine on the six species of sin against the Holy Spirit, which can be identified in the New Testament:

(1) Despair, which consists in losing hope in our salvation (why should I repent, if I am going to do it again…).

(2) Presumption, which consists in taking God’s mercy for granted and erroneously believing that, neither now nor at the end of our life, we will have to account for our sins.

(3) Impenitence or firm determination not to repent; usually justifying or downplaying my faults.

(4) Obstinacy, which is lacking the necessary humility to admit that I have sinned and continue to persist in that sin; it is a form of manipulating the truth…as one who does not accept correction, the warning of others, the advice, the opinion of others. It is a consequence of chronic attachment to judgments or desires. It is what causes St. Paul’s pain in the Second Reading. He already noticed that his strength was failing and that all his efforts in Corinth were not always appreciated or well used, and his spiritual children were focusing their eyes on visible things rather than on the truth they had received.

(5) Resisting the divine truth that is known to be such (I am not going to stop now to think about whether something is opposed to God, whether it has consequences…). Warning, because this sin is born of a hardened sensibility.

(6) Envy of the spiritual well-being of others. This was the sin of Satan, Adam and the scribes in today’s Gospel passage.

If we reflect a little, we must recognize that these faults are not rare, nor are they foreign to your life and mine. The root of these sins can be described as a misuse of freedom, produced by pride. In the Second Reading, St. Paul, who knew well the craft of tentmaking, says to the Corinthians: For we know that if this tent, which is our earthly dwelling place, should collapse, we have a building that is God’s: an eternal dwelling place, not made with hands, which is in heaven.

The narrative of original sin also illustrates how any sin, any unfaithfulness, has an effect on our neighbor. In this case, it is Eve who drags Adam into disobedience. Many of us do not accept this reality, imagining that there are “hidden sins”, which have no consequences on other people. This attitude is probably even more dangerous today, because we are invaded by a theoretical, but above all de facto, conception of the individualistic autonomy of the person.

Let us take a frequent case: thoughts against chastity. There is no need to speak of actions. The effects of both are immediately devastating, either on one’s neighbor, or on one’s own ability to live a full fatherhood or motherhood.

Since it almost always has a negative connotation, let us not be afraid of the word seduction, for already in the Old Testament it appears as the explanation of the way in which God attracts us: You seduced me, O Lord, and I let myself be seduced; you were stronger than I, and you conquered me (Jer 20: 7).

Today’s Readings invite us to look the reality of sin in the face. Christ really shows us who we are and what we are like, without concealing our faults or our untapped capacities, making clear what form of unity He has with us: Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister and my mother. I would dare to say that it is a form of seduction with which we attract God the Father, who takes pity on our fragility, like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings (Lk 13: 34).

Yes, we are created in the image and likeness of God in order to advance in intimacy with Him. As the First Reading shows, He has always aspired to walk with us in Paradise. In today’s Gospel we see how Christ helps us to progress in this union, not with magical rites or esoteric gestures, as some “healers” of his time or some seducers of today did. To redeem ourselves, to be free from now on, he simply proposes to us to have faith in his Word.

Who will free me from the slavery imposed by the serpent, asks Paul (Rom 7:24). The answer is found in today’s Gospel, but it was already foretold in the Genesis passage: one of the woman’s offspring will prevail against the serpent and crush his head.


In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,