Readings: Gn 3:9-15; Ps 130:1-8; 2 Cor 4:13-5:1; Mk 3:20-35
Unity, division and forgiveness are themes that themes in the gospel of this Sunday. The gospel this Sunday is partially about a strange accusation of Jesus driving out demons by the power of the devil. To that accusation by the pharisee Jesus gives an answer at once simple and profound. "How can Satan be divided against Satan? A house divided against itself cannot stand." Jesus cannot be devil-possessed and at the same time cast out devils. Still, there is something more here. Satan really is the master of division, disunity. The word devil comes from the Greek, diabollein which means to throw across or tear apart. Satan is the destroyer of unity. Jesus on the other hand came to bring a deep, substantial unity. One of the signs of being his followers is that we are constantly working for more profound unity and harmony.
The pastor in the parish has the primary responsibility for bringing all the members of the parish together as one family. But not only that. He also must be sure we are closely joined to our bishop and the Holy Father--the diocese and the universal Church. Jesus wants his Church to be one. Our unity will attract others to Jesus and his Church, while division will drive many away. Unity with Jesus is based on receiving his forgiveness and forgiving each other. Regarding that forgiveness, we hear something a little jarring in today's Gospel. "Every sin will be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Spirit. It can never be forgiven. It is an eternal sin." This sound like an exception to what we always hear about Jesus forgiving everything.
The unforgivable sin--the sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin of those who said Jesus has an unclean spirit. Now, obviously not just uttering those words, but what they mean. It's like saying I do not believe Jesus has the power to forgive. His blood means nothing to me. His death on the cross makes no difference. When a person says that--and means it--he cannot be forgiven, because has rejected the whole basis for forgiveness. It's like the guy who falls off a ship. The sailors throw him a float boat, but he is so proud that he pushes it away. He finally drowns because he rejects the one thing which could save him. The only way we can be rescued is by clinging to Jesus, embracing Him and, his Cross. So what is the good news? The good news may be summed up in three points. 1) Jesus came to bring us all to unity with the Father and with one another through the Holy Spirit. 2) Unity with Jesus is based on receiving his forgiveness and forgiving each other. 3) Rejecting forgiveness is clearly unforgivable. It is like refusing to catch a lifeboat at sea, the only way you can be saved.
©2018 John S, Mbinda