Of the countless hours I’ve wasted on the internet and had my Attention Deficit Disorder triggered, without a doubt, some of my favorites have come from things that are categorized under the phrase “You had one job.”  This phrase is used to express frustration when someone or something fails to do their main task, especially if it seems easy or basic.  If you’re on my friends list on my phone, I will likely fill your messages with “You had one job,” things that cause me to laugh uncontrollably, that I feel the need to share my distractions (hopefully humorous) with others.  They could be short 10-second videos like seeing this symphony orchestra playing this dramatic piece of music.  The guy playing the Kettle Drum gets to his big moment, slams his mallet into the drum, and somehow loses his grip as it ends up taking out a nearby instrumentalist.  After watching at least a dozen times and laughing like an idiot, I felt guilty.   So I spent another 20 minutes of internet searches to learn that the person who got “taken out” was okay, which, when I did, resulted in me watching and laughing and sharing that video another dozen times.  (see it here )  Or they can just be pictures that are so absurdly obvious like this woman posting a picture of a box delivered to her home and the address label included printing the delivery instructions on it that said: “it’s a surprise party for my Mother, and we live together so please can the box not look obvious it’s party supplies.”  Or this one of a bike lane in a street that is clearly marked and directs people to ride right into a guard rail.

Thanks for everyone’s kind notes asking why there wasn’t new posts the last two weeks, and yes I’m okay! I was at ordinations and first Masses of newly ordained priests, so I wasn’t scheduled to preach and was busy with those beautiful events!  But I appreciate everyone who are faithful readers and for checking in on me!  Here’s my homily for the 10TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – June 9, 2024.  I appreciate your sharing this on your social media posts and your feedback and comments…  I’m also grateful for all those who’ve asked for the audio version and share them as well at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE.  May the Lord be glorified in your reading and sharing- Father Jim

In these instances, “you had one job” can be comical (and the more immature or silly you are like me, the more hysterical).  And when it’s a cat picture displayed in a frame that says my dog with paw prints on it, it’s not the biggest catastrophe in the world (get it – Cat-astrophe — Terrible, cheap laugh, sorry…).  But when reading today’s scriptures, that expression “You had one job” isn’t as funny.  In fact, it takes on an incredible weight and seriousness, resulting in eternal consequences.

The first reading from the book of Genesis is an excerpt from one of the creation stories.  We read how our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the perfection of God’s creation, literally had one job and failed miserably at it.   But people can be mistaken about what that job exactly was.  I’ve seen more than a few “You had one job” memes where they take great works of art that depict Adam and Eve at the grave moment where they eat the fruit of the tree that God had forbidden them not to warning “when you eat from it you shall die.”  While this is the moment everything changed, that wasn’t the one job they failed.   It’s too simple to dismiss something this ruinous as resulting from a bite of a piece of fruit.  That was the final and disastrous failure.  But it was preceded by a bunch of other failures on Adam and Eve’s part:

They failed to be grateful for what God had done for them in the very loving act of creation itself.
They failed to be good stewards of those gifts.
They failed at listening to God.
They failed to trust Him.

From each of those failures, everything else falls apart.  The loss of gratitude results in taking things for granted – which makes them presumptuous and entitled – which makes them lazy and ultimately dumb and ignorant, where they can fall for the lies of a serpent amid the perfection of creation.  So, it’s not like Adam and Eve cheated on God’s diet plan by eating a piece of fruit from a single tree, and now humanity has suffered ever since as a result.  We can get distracted by the story, missing the point.  The one job they had was avoiding sin.

This is why these opening chapters of the Bible’s first book are so pivotal for us today.  Ultimately, that’s still the one job we all have.  It’s really that simple.  That doesn’t mean that people don’t complicate and confuse that issue.  You’ll have some who want to redefine sin or fixate on the challenges, the things that can mitigate something from being sinful or not… where they end up looking for loopholes, trying to explain every mistake, every bad decision away by focusing on different experiences people have in life.  Others like to play the comparison game – compare things – compare people’s actions, compare different sins as if things are on a sliding scale.  (For example, that’s what you’ll hear when someone justifies not going to Sunday Mass with “I’m a good person, it’s not like I killed somebody…”)

That chaos, confusion, and complications still come from this fateful moment in the Garden of Eden.  When the choice, the decision to sin, was first made on the part of humanity – what does Adam do?  He starts blaming Eve, He even blames God for giving him a bride…  The one sin results in many others quickly following – showing that the gift of freedom that God so generously offered us could be so quickly squandered, and result in a lot of disastrous decisions.

In the Gospel, we are reminded God himself comes among us as one of us in the incarnation.  Jesus’ entire purpose was to heal the chaos, confusion, and complications from the Garden of Eden when humanity chose to sin and found it unleashed on the rest of creation.  He’s come to save us from sin by offering everyone who desires their freedom once again as beloved sons and daughters of God the only way to experience that through forgiveness of sin.  That’s what His mission is about – That’s what his Passion, Death and Resurrection have accomplished – That’s what His sacraments continue to do for us here and now.   At the same time, the serpent, the devil, and his demonic minions are still lurking around and are even more angry because of that gift of forgiveness; because of that reconciliation, God has worked for humanity, undoing those consequences and realities of sin that started in the Garden of Eden.  Satan hated God and hated God’s creation before.  You gotta believe that after Jesus’ victory over sin and death, he was really displeased.  So the devil feels the urgency to get us to squander the graces of our Baptisms where we received our new identity’s as God’s beloved sons and daughters;  to treat the Eucharist as something ordinary, routine and even optional, rather than the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ that we need as life-giving food for our souls;  to stay away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation and not go to confession for years out of the most unoriginal reasons and deadliest of sins – Pride.  We find, despite all these gifts we have as Catholics, we are not so different from the two originals in that Garden some millennia ago.

But that’s why it’s essential to be clear it’s more than just about the fruit they ate.  For Catholics, we talk about it as avoiding the “occasions of sin.” And often, that comes from things that aren’t necessarily evil.  A computer, a cell phone, going to a football game – those are things that are morally neutral and can, in many ways, be used for good things.  But for someone who’s struggling with gambling or struggling with addictions to looking at obscene movies, they can become “occasions” of sin.  If that’s where a person is experiencing vulnerability in living a virtuous life, and if that’s where they are experiencing weakness in resisting sin, they need to avoid it.  Rather than focusing on “I failed again – I keep committing this sin – I can’t stop doing this thing” and looking at that one action, like “eating forbidden fruit,” as a failure, its more important to back things up and see the things that set ourselves up for the failure and realizing that’s where the one job is done.  If I’m serious about that one job, about avoiding sin – then I have to start by looking at the ways, the things that can trip me, that can cause me to end up committing those sins.

And I have to be honest and recognize I can’t do this one job on my own.  I need Jesus.  I need to call out to God.  I need to listen to Him and His word and His commands.  That’s why this Gospel passage is so frustrating:  The arrogance of some who’ve seen Jesus performing miracles that prove He is God incarnate.  They use that as their evidence that He’s crazy.  The blindness of the scribes who’ve witnessed Jesus vanquish evil with exorcisms, driving demons out of people that have been tormented by them – some for most of their lives; proving that no God and Satan are not equal competing forces that it’s unclear who’s going to win in the end – and these scribes blaspheme by calling God’s goodness something demonic.  They’ve stopped trying to resist sinning and the occasions of sin for some time.  The mere presence of Jesus reveals the darkness of these minds and hearts who, at least in this moment, are hell-bent, pun intended, on doing things their way… deciding for themselves what is a sin, which commandments of God are more important than others, who is more righteous and who isn’t.

In the midst of this kind of chaotic scene, comes this interesting ending. When Jesus was told that his Mother Mary and other relatives, which, just a quick clarification, our translation in English referred to as ‘brothers and sisters,’ saying they were waiting to speak to him, it’s important to note that Mary was a perpetual virgin.  She and St. Joseph did not have any other children.  Scholars explain that the terms’ brothers and sisters’ in Hebrew and Aramaic can refer to male and female relatives, including cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, and uncles.

But – Jesus’ response, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” may appear like Jesus is dismissing Mary and her role and her importance.  But upon reflection, we realize that Jesus is highlighting Mary as the perfect example of discipleship.  Unlike Adam and Eve, Mary lived a life of obedience.  When the Angel Gabriel invited her to become the Mother of God, she demonstrated the ultimate act of obedience by saying, “Thy will be done.”  Listening to His words and doing God’s will was how she became His Mother.

In that, Mary demonstrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission and what He desires for every single one of us. We have to flip where our energy and focus needs to be and see what our goal needs to be:  Listening to God’s word and doing His will is more than just avoiding sin, grinding, struggling, and hoping not to mess up.  When we do that, we see that ultimately it’s about being part of God’s family which is way more important than simply having that one job and doing it well.