A reflection on the readings for June 9, 2024

On September 19, 1985, at around 7 a.m., Mexico City and its surrounding area suffered one of the largest earthquakes in its history, registering 8.1 on the Richter scale. The consequences of the disaster were devastating and the following days were filled with chaos. The number of deaths and the scope of the material destruction were never known exactly. It is estimated that there were more than 3,000 deaths. The rescue efforts continued for about a month. The removal of debris lasted years. However, even with the lack of resources in this country that is not considered a major world power, its inhabitants gathered and together they moved forward.

But this wasn’t the last time catastrophe struck Mexico. Exactly 32 years later, on September 19, 2017, Mexico once again suffered another devastating earthquake. This time the epicenter was the city of Puebla, just 80 miles away from Mexico City. This time it was around one in the afternoon when the ground shook Puebla, Mexico City, and the entire region with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Everyone talked about the immense coincidence that on the same date, but decades later, something so painful was suffered again. However, there was also talk of the need to unite everyone to move forward. The same country that was still not a world power, found in its citizens a common heart to help each other and get ahead. However, this is not the end. Mexico received the collaboration of other countries that came to help. Flags of many countries paraded into the rubble. Without speaking the same language, people communicated. A devastated people came together to heal and eventually the world came together and together they helped Mexico move forward.[1]

As people, we were created to be in union, in community. Fostering an attitude contrary to this basic nature can only bring bad results and devastating consequences both at the individual level and in society. Human beings from an earthly perspective depend a lot on each other. From the clothes we wear to the items we see in the church — they are all the product of the collaboration of many people. Let’s simply think about the bread and the wine: How many people did not directly contribute to planting the grapes and wheat, to taking care of them, to cultivating the land, to collecting the fruit? How many of us had nothing to do with creating the plastic containers, glass bottles, or little boxes in which they were placed. How many of us did not participate in transporting them, driving the trucks, fixing the trucks, mapping out the routes, supplying fuel so that the bread and wine will be available for us at Mass.

The same thing happens in the spiritual field. Our faith teaches us that our creed has been developed through the work, collaboration, and prayer of many people, starting with the prophets, continuing in our time, and pointing towards future generations. Furthermore, our own faith teaches us that this community participation does not end — even with death. That is why the Church finds great value in us praying for the souls of the faithful departed as we ask for intercession for those who have come before.

Today’s readings precisely invite us to stir our human conscience to remind us that division and isolation are not part of the structure of people. It is for this very reason that the first attack of evil towards the work of God is precisely to seek, foster, and cultivate division. Whether we find ourselves surrounded by an angry spirit that seeks quarrel and separation, or because we fall into the trap of thinking that our sins are bigger than we are. How often are we led to think that we have committed the worst sin in the world, and therefore God will not forgive us, resulting in our “hiding from him.”

In the first reading we hear the consequences of the first attempt at division in the history of creation. It is a division between the creature and the creator, between people and God: “After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” As we know, this episode is immediately followed by original sin. In other words, this is just after man decided to put himself in the place of the Creator (cf. they will be like gods). He ends up realizing his situation, and his eyes open. Consequently, he goes and hides from God. Although, in the beginning, everything was lived on the level of perfect communion between Adam, Eve, and creation, the consequence of sin was to break that relationship and separate them from each other.

Today’s gospel reading emphasizes this point about union and division as well. Right at the beginning we see that Jesus encounters a crowd that belittles his work: “for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Afterwards Jesus makes them reflect: “how can Stan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. However, the sense of unity comes again with his last words today: “here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the Will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus rescues the sense of communion, of union, that he had intended from the beginning for the good of people.

The second reading, with a slightly different emphasis, but following the same line, reminds us that we live within a spiritual battle. It is now our task to work to build the kingdom, a kingdom in which everyone has a place: “everyone, everyone, everyone” Pope Francis has told us repeatedly. It is a battle in which we have to avoid any attempt at discrimination, whether due to people’s past, their sins, the country where they lived, their age or their economic situation. Any consent to division wherever it may be — at the Church level, at the political level or at the socio-cultural level — is a step away from God’s project and from our highest purpose.


[1] Cf. https://www.cndh.org.mx/noticia/sismos-de-1985-y-2017-organizacion-y-solidaridad-del-pueblo-mexicano-0#:~:text=El%2019%20de%20septiembre%20de,con%20sus%20hermanos%20en%20desgracia.

Image: “He Said / She Said” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by hayespdx

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Father Bernardo Lara is a priest of the Diocese of San Diego and pastor of three Southern California parishes: Sacred Heart and St. Margaret Mary in Brawley and St. Joseph in Westmorland.

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