Fr Frank’s Homily for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

By Fr Frank Brennan SJ, 8 June 2024
'Adam and Eve' by Marcantonio Franceschini (1648–1729). Image: Wikimedia Commons


Homily for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Readings: Genesis 3:9-15; Psalm 129(130); 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35

9 June 2024


In today’s first reading from Genesis, we enter that all too familiar scene of the man and woman in the garden of Eden. The Lord God appears and asks: “Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you eat?” The man gives the typical reply: “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” The response is typical in that we all have a natural tendency to blame someone other than ourselves when we can. And sadly typical in another way: the capacity of the man to blame the woman in all sorts of situations.


Both aspects of this typical response were highlighted for me this past week in the most recent controversy in the United States with their Supreme Court. The court is about to hear cases relating to Donald Trump and the storming of the Congress on 6 January 2021. Some people are objecting to Justice Samuel Alito sitting on these cases because flags sometimes associated with the Trump protests were flying outside his family home and outside his beach house. Alito took the unprecedented step of writing to US Congress members telling them:

“I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag. I was not even aware of the upside­ down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused. My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.”[1]

In relation to the flag flying at the beach house, he wrote: “I recall that my wife did fly that flag for some period of time, but I do not remember how long it flew. And what is most relevant here, I had no involvement in the decision to fly that flag.”

My concern is not the law and politics of the USA. Justice Alito is a good 21st Century example of the man’s typical response: “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” In all sorts of situations, we can blame someone other than ourselves for the situations of which we are a part. And in male-dominated domains, including our Church, it is easy for men to blame the women, to deny them real agency or to exclude them.

In today’s gospel, we confront that difficult scene where Jesus’ family are so convinced that he is out of his mind that they set out to take charge of him. They cannot reach Jesus because he is being mobbed by the crowd. Without moving out of the crowded house, Jesus declares: “Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”

Scripture scholar Brendan Byrne writes:

“If one is looking for a rich theology of family life in the New Testament, Mark’s gospel is hardly the place to begin. Whatever may have been the attitude of Jesus himself, Mark’s negative view may reflect the situation of the community for which he wrote, where commitment to the gospel required heavy sacrifice in the area of family attachment and also perhaps severe lack of support or even betrayal from family members.”[2]

During this past fortnight we have all benefited from the presence in Australia of Fr Orobator SJ reflecting on synodality. At one of his seminars, I had to confess to some synod fatigue.[3]  My fatigue was heightened by Pope Francis’ very direct exchange on American television when asked if women would ever have “the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the church”. Francis answered promptly and unambiguously, ‘No’. When pressed by the CBS reporter, he explained: “If it is deacons with Holy Orders, no. But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right? Women are of great service as women, not as ministers, as ministers in this regard, within the Holy Orders.”[4]

Let’s not forget that as part of the Synod process, the pope has set up a working group to report by June 2025 on ‘the role of women in the Church and their participation in decision-making/taking processes and community leadership’.  The Vatican document issued only three months ago states:

“It is in this context that the question of women’s possible access to the diaconate can be properly posed: to this Group is entrusted the task to continue ‘Theological and pastoral research on the access of women to the diaconate […], benefiting from consideration of the results of the commissions specially established by the Holy Father’.

“This Group will also aim to respond to the Synodal Assembly’s desire for ‘a greater recognition and appreciation of the contribution of women and a growth in the pastoral responsibilities entrusted to them in all areas of the life and mission of the Church’.”[5]

I can understand those women who are now asking, “What’s the point?” and “Will there be anything worthwhile to discuss on this topic at the next session of the Synod in October?”  Fighting to maintain hope, I note the recent remarks of Austin Ivereigh, the pope’s dedicated biographer:

“Opening the clergy to women can only be the fruit of a consensus over time emerging from an authentic ecclesial discernment. Were the Pope now to say ‘I’m open’, that discernment would be quickly sabotaged by a Church of England-style stand-off between liberal and conservative lobbies. So the Pope is re-affirming the Church’s position in order to enable a quiet discernment at various levels.”[6]

That sounds more like politics than discernment to me. Meanwhile we risk losing a whole generation of women from our church. Let’s not just blame others. And let’s not blame the women who are agitating for change. Let’s all do something. Let’s proclaim with hope: “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.” Let’s pray for those preparing for the next session of our Synod, especially the women participants:

My soul is longing for the Lord,

I count on his word.

My soul is longing for the Lord

more than watchman for daybreak.


From the start of 2024, Fr Frank Brennan SJ will serve as part of a Jesuit team of priests working within a new configuration of the Toowong, St Lucia and Indooroopilly parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Frank Brennan SJ is a former CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA). Fr Frank’s latest book is An Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Considering a Constitutional Bridge, Garratt Publishing, 2023 and his forthcoming book is ‘Lessons from Our Failure to Build a Constitutional Bridge in the 2023 Referendum’ (Connor Court, 2024). 


[1] Letter of Justice Alito to Senators Richard J Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, 29 May 2024 available at

[2] Brendan Byrne, A Costly Freedom, St Pauls, 2008, pp. 75-6

[3] See

[4] See

[5] GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE SYNOD , Study Groups for questions raised in the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops  to be explored in collaboration with the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Work Outline, 14 March 2024, p.8, available at

[6] Austen Ivereigh, ‘View from Rome’, The Tablet, 8 June 2024, p.27


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