10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13 – 5:1; Mk 3:20-35 (Year B)
The Genesis account of the Fall does not sit easily with the scientific mind. To the eye of faith, however, it clearly asserts that sin had its beginning in humanity’s rebellion. Ancient though it be, it is a masterly description of sin’s consequences.
Sin wants to hide itself just as the man and the woman attempted to hide their lost innocence from God. Sin does not want to own its own culpability. Thus the man blamed the woman, and the woman, in her turn, blamed the serpent. Sin always divides. Above all it divides the loyalties of our own hearts.
Confronted with the false accusations of the scribes, Jesus pointed to sin’s conflicting divisions: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided, that household can never stand.” Jesus was referring to the divided loyalties of the unrepentant sinner.
Only when sin is surrendered to God’s mercy do we find inner peace. “No one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.”
We, in ourselves, are the house that sin seeks to master. Our strength lies in the Lord alone, and when we abandon him we are defenceless against sin. Jesus went on to promise forgiveness for a multitude of sins, with one exception. “I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
Within the context of the Gospel this unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was explained as the scribes’ insistence that Jesus was possessed of an unclean spirit. In effect they refused to believe in him or his Gospel, thereby cutting themselves off from the source of salvation.
What would be for us the unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit? Many opinions have been expressed. To me the most plausible is as follows: when we culpably remain enmeshed in sin, refusing to entrust ourselves to God’s proffered forgiveness, we blaspheme against the very Spirit of God. God’s Spirit is tenderness and mercy. He is slow to anger and rich in forgiveness. To remain obdurate in the face of such forgiveness is to cut ourselves off from God. It is the sin against the Holy Spirit.
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