Reflection for Sunday 9th June, 2024

 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:20-35)

Many people today do not take the existence and power of the devil seriously. The devil is regarded as a mythological hangover from the times before we were educated!

However, Jesus took the devil very seriously and the final petition of the Our Father is to deliver us from the Evil One. "In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God.

The devil (diabolos) is the one who throws himself across God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ" (Catechism,2851). Today's First Reading recalls how Satan misled Adam and Eve, and sin entered the world.

“Here are my mother and my brothers.  Anyone who does the will of God is my mother and sister and brother.”“Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God is my mother and sister and brother.”

Blind Prejudice

The critics of Jesus were faced with the fact that Jesus was healing the sick and giving people peace of mind. They were so hardened in heart that they absolutely refused to believe that his power came from God. Prejudice means pre-judgement which causes the mind to be blind to the facts. Those who are not used to listening do not speak: they bark! I’m sure you’ve met it in people who deny historical facts or medical evidence.

Jesus said that the devil is a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44).

People who are so misled by Satan that they utter words of hatred or defiance against God are guilty of what Jesus called blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "Anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit and will never receive forgiveness." But, isn't God full of mercy and wishes that all people would be saved? True, but the fact is that the merciful forgiveness that God offers must be accepted. If the blasphemer repents, then he/she is no longer a blasphemer and has opened the door to receive God's forgiveness. The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the final defiance or total rejection of God’s merciful forgiveness.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is much more than some words of frustration that a person might shout in a moment of temper but regrets the outburst later. Serious blasphemy comes out of a life deeply given over to evil. This person has taken up a defiant stance against everything that God represents. When this persists to the end, forgiveness is still offered but is rejected.

Mary the model of belief

While this debate with the obdurate scribes was taking place, the Mother of Jesus and some family members arrived. The message was passed to Jesus. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asks. Looking round at those sitting in a circle around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God is my mother and sister and brother.”
People who are prejudiced against devotion to Mary interpret this text as a rejection of Mary by Jesus. Rather, it is not a rejection but Jesus is welcoming his new disciples as members of the family of believers. Mary’s wider family commenced when she responded to the angel of the Annunciation:

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word.”