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 by making two accusations:

  1. He is possessed, not by just any ordinary demon, but by Beelzebul the prince of demons.
  2. 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 only be made by a perverse mind.

Nor can someone:

…enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

Clearly Jesus is the strong man who cannot be overcome.

The next statement of Jesus, however, may cause difficulties for some. Jesus says:

Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin…

But 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. This was something the ordinary people had no difficulty in seeing.

Once we are in a position where we have closed our minds to God’s presence in our lives, how can God reach us? God only forgives 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 enables 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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