Soul Food for Sundays

Soul Food for The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 9th June 2024  

Reflections 9th June 2024
Mark 3:20-35

The Author: David Halpin
calendar_today Date: May 30, 2024 - 2 minutes read

The ‘Bogeyman’ and ‘Monsters Under the Bed’ are common mythical creations to encourage, or some might say, frighten little children into good behaviour. In my house a variation was born about two years ago. I was trying to get my then two- and three-year olds to go to sleep or at least to stay under the bed clothes on a frosty, wintry evening, when suddenly I heard myself saying: “You better stay in bed or the Cold Monster will get you.” The Cold Monster has been with us ever since. But his job description has changed. He has morphed from an enforcer of good behaviour to being the scapegoat for any misbehaviour or indeed anything that goes wrong. A common refrain is: “It wasn’t me; it was the Cold Monster.”

The impulse to refrain from accepting responsibility is strong in us humans. Our egos do not like when we are found out! The image of ourselves that we like to project to the world, does not include blemishes and imperfections. We like to keep our shadow side in the shadows! Hence, when our imperfections or inadequacies, flaws, failings or shortcomings – in theological language, our sinfulness – are brought out into the sunlight, our first instinct can be to point the finger away from us: “It wasn’t me!”

Our First Reading tells us that Adam ate of the fruit of the tree. When confronted, rather than take responsibility, he immediately blamed the woman. When approached she also was in no rush to own up, instead blaming the snake. In the Gospel, Jesus’ relations couldn’t accept the embarrassment that he was bringing on family. He really appeared to be getting above his station! “He is out of his mind,” they professed. “He is possessed by Beelzebub”.

It’s always easier to point away from oneself.

This paying forward the responsibility happens again and again. Even though the incident was witnessed with my own two eyes, when asked: “Did you hit your sister? “No, I didn’t,” she’ll scream, “It was the Cold Monster!”

The snake in the tree, the Devil or the Cold Monster, who do you like to blame for the imperfections in your life?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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David Halpin

David was a priest of his home diocese, Dublin, for twenty years and is a life-long spiritual seeker. A full-time chaplain in St. Mary’s College, Rathmines, he lectures on spirituality in two Masters programmes. Now married, he lives in the midlands with family including the 2 little ones mentioned above.