Free to Choose

First Reading: 2 Sm 5:1-7, 10
Psalm: Ps 89:20, 21-22, 25-26
Gospel: Mk 3:22-30

Probably all of us have experienced the pain of being misunderstood.
Especially when we do something with good intentions and people
maliciously say that we only want to be praised or look better than
others. Such experiences can be crushing. It was already painful
for Jesus when his relatives feared for his sanity. But it must
have been a devastating experience when the scribes accused him of
using Satan’s power to work his miracles. He who was the Son of
God, they called an agent of Satan. He who was the incarnate love
of God, they called the incarnate power of Satan.

We might hear this gospel reading and conclude that we would never
act as the scribes did.
Are we really so sure? Name-calling or
offensive labeling of people was common in the time of Jesus and is
still prevalent today.

In trying to understand why some people seem to have the need to
offend others through labels, which are hurting, perhaps we should
check to see if we have pinned such labels on others.

Do we belittle the good deeds of those whom we dislike and assign
them hurting names and questionable motives for their actions? Are
we quick to criticize those whom we presume are threats to our own
status? If we do such things and ignore the promptings of
compassion and forgiveness that come from the Holy Spirit, we are
destroying the bonds of unity that should exist among us.

When the scribes call Jesus names, he remains calm. He goes into a
logical discourse proving the stupidity of such accusations. And
then he mentions the sin against the Holy Spirit, which cannot be
forgiven. Why can even God not forgive this sin? Is not God
almighty, compassionate and merciful? God is all this and more.
But God cannot go against the unwillingness or even the resistance
of a person who refuses to accept the presence of his power in his
life and does not welcome God’s liberating action.

God cannot and will not force anybody against his will into his
love.
God is not unwilling to forgive. But since he gave us
freedom, he respects this freedom even when it is used to shut out
God from our lives. The sin against the Holy Spirit is resistance
to God’s Spirit who enables us to recognize God’s presence and work
in our lives. And where there is such resistance, there good begins
to appear as evil and vice versa. There is therefore no admission
of fault, there is no repentance. The person has shut himself out
from God’s loving act of forgiveness. If we are not careful, we can
easily grow into such an attitude. The sin against the Holy Spirit
just lurks around the corner to hinder us on our journey towards the
Father’s house.

  • laurak

    The catechism takes a little different view on blasphemy though:

    CC 2148: Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name. St. James condemns those “who blaspheme that honorable name of (Jesus) by which you are called. The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God’s name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God’s name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion. Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.

    This Food For Thought reflection states: “The sin against the Holy Spirit is resistance to God’s Spirit who enables us to recognize God’s presence and work in our lives.”

    Personally, I think it’s a stretch to say that resistance to the promptings of the Holy Spirit alone, is blasphemous.

  • chaco

    I’m feeling a bit muddled here; Doesn’t everything you/laurak mentioned here fall into the category of “resisting promptings of the Holy Spirit? The main message I’m sensing is that Jesus “kept his cool”(patience & mercy) when reacting to the accusations of him being a devil. I recall an elderly clergyman once sharing that from all his years in the Church, the overwhelming reason for people seeking a relationship with their God was the experience of Love/Mercy – not fear. “Amazing Grace, how sweet…” [Even when defending ourselves or innocent victims,"Keeping our Cool" is the best approach ie; Mr Miagi(Karate Kid movie). "The War" is already won(see John 12.31). All that is left is to put out the remaining "brush fires". Trusting our Risen Lord is "The Extinguisher".]

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