The teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem said, «He is possessed by Beelzebul: the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons». Jesus called them to him and began teaching them by means of stories or parables, «How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished. No one can break into the house of the Strong one in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the Strong one. Then indeed, he can plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven: he carries the guilt of his sin forever». This was their sin when they said, «He has an evil spirit in him».
If there is one thing we need to be sure as a baptized person, it is the certitude of the goodness and divine generosity. We must never doubt it. If we doubt this divine generosity, we doubt everything in life, even God as a Creator, the author of life. It is in this faith that we are asked to search in and around our life, all that God has already given us or the people He has placed around us, not everything we would like to have in our life. If we continue to list of what we don’t have (though just and true they may appear to us), there we make a blunder of not recognizing what God has given to us.
Today, Jesus invites us to discover how much God loves us, how He loves us in Jesus Christ. We are here to cherish in Jesus the divine compassion, love and forgiveness that God wishes for us. It is Jesus who gives us the sign of grace and He Himself is the symbol of grace. Rather to say, He himself is the grace. A negation of Jesus, a negation of the Holy Spirit working in him, a negation of God who sent Jesus among us, will be a negation of ourselves, a negation of life itself. If we do not recognize life and its author, especially the purpose of this life, how can we live this life fully and meaningfully?
The presence of Jesus in the world, and in our life, is already a hope and a grace that God desires to assure us. As St. Paul tells us in the first reading, He came as a mediator, as a high priest to offer the offering of the remission of sin, and He Himself became for us an offering, a pure offering. He further says, through the incarnation, we have known him in his humanity and He will return. That day we will see him in his glory. The purpose of life is that, on that day, we can stand before Him, just and deign to receive His grace. To receive this grace, we have to be humble and generous.
«But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven»
Fr. Vicenç GUINOT i Gómez
(Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Spain)
Today, when we read about this event in the Gospel we are more than a little surprised when «the teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem» recognize Jesus' compassion for the oppressed and witness the divine miracles with which He blesses them, but then say, «He is possessed by Beelzebub», and «the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons» (Mk 3:22). It is surprising how even intelligent people permit personal and religious animosity to blind them to the good in others. These teachers were in the presence of Him who personified Goodness. They must have sensed, as did others, the unassuming Heart of Jesus, and they will have understood that they stood before One who was the only true Innocent. Yet, because of their intransigence, they obstinately refused to acknowledge him. Those who claim to be knowledgeable in the things of God, were those who not only did not recognize him, but who also accused him of being satanic.
While others might have retaliated in an angry outburst, or turned away from them and their contemptuous accusation, our Lord does not, for He knows that He must try to convince them of his divinity for the sake of their souls. As John Paul II has asserted, our Lord «is an insuperable testimony of patient loving and humble gentleness». His unlimited condescension brings Him to try to open their closed hearts by reasoning with them by parables, but to no avail. Finally, Jesus in the divine but stern authority of the Godhead warns them that their hard-heartedness is rebellion against the Holy Spirit, and that it will never be forgiven (cf. Mk 3:29). That rebellion remains unforgiven, not because God does not want to forgive, but because, to be forgiven, one must first recognize one's sin, which the rebellious will not do.
The Master knows that His followers also experience that same obstinacy, even when they are acting in good faith for the benefit of unbelievers. All of us will, at times, face the same kind of difficulties and rejection as Jesus did. When we do, let us remember Saint Terese of Jesus when she was leading her sisters closer to holiness.
Let us not, therefore, be surprised if we find in our path these contradictions. They will just be the sign we are following the right way of life. Let us then pray for these people and ask our Lord to give us the necessary patience.