Monday of week 3 of Ordinary Time – Gospel


Commentary on Mark 3:22-30 We have seen how the religious leaders have tried various ploys to expose Jesus as a violator of the Law. They now try a new tactic to discredit him. Basically they make two accusations:

a. He is possessed, not by just any ordinary demon, but by Beelzebul the prince of demons.

b. It is through the power of the demon in him that he expels evil spirits from others.

Jesus answers both charges. He responds to the second charge by showing its internal contradictions. If the devil was acting against himself his power would eventually collapse, like a divided household. To drive the demon from someone as Jesus did was to liberate that person, free that person from evil powers. Why would the demon want to do something like that? The charge does not make sense. It could be made by a perverse mind.

Nor can someone enter a strong man’s house to burgle without first overpowering the strong man inside and rendering him ineffective. Clearly Jesus is the strong man who cannot be overcome.

The next statement of Jesus, however, may cause difficulties for some. Jesus says that every sin, including all kinds of blasphemies that people can utter, can be forgiven but the sin of blaspheming the holy Spirit. Why only this sin? Is God’s mercy not infinite and omnipotent?

The Spirit is the origin of all that is good in Jesus, in people and in the world. God is present in the world through the Spirit. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to deliberately refuse to see that presence, that goodness, as the scribes, for instance, obstinately refused to see the hand of God’s love in all that Jesus was doing. Something the ordinary people had no difficulty in seeing.

Once we are in a position that we have closed our minds to God’s presence in our lives, how can God reach us? God can only forgive those who reach out to him in sorrow and repentance. Forgiveness only came to the Prodigal Son when he turned back to find his father. Forgiveness for God is reconciliation; it is the healing of our wound. He cannot, he will not reach into a heart that has closed itself tight. He will never force his way in. Love is not love if it is not free. But the corollary of that freedom is the ability to choose the opposite. That was the choice the Scribes were making.

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