Saturday, 9 June 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018 - The sin against the Holy Spirit is to no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can transform me

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13-5:1;Mk 3:20-35

The connection between the first reading and the Gospel seems to be sin. In the first reading we are told about what is commonly known as original sin and in the Gospel reading we hear the Marcan Jesus speak about the sin against the Holy Spirit.

The sin of those who accuse Jesus casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons has its roots in the sin of Adam and Eve. In both cases it is the result of a closed attitude. If in the case of Adam and Eve the sin of eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree was because of a refusal to obey God’s spoken word and command, in the case of the scribes the sin against the Holy Spirit was because of a refusal to listen to God’s word made manifest in his Son.

The consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve are humiliation, domination and subordination, conflict, suffering and struggle. They touch every aspect of human life. In all of the areas like marriage and sexuality; birth and death; work and food; human and nonhuman, it seems that now death is encroaching on life. Where there was once harmony and cosmos, there is now disharmony and chaos. Where there was once tranquility and peace, there is now conflict and strife.

This is also the case with the sin of the scribes. The Word of God made manifest in Jesus was a Word that was meant to bring harmony and restore the Cosmos to what it was meant to be. However, the refusal of the scribes to accept and listen to that Word resulted in confusion, bewilderment, disorientation and disorder.

The point in both the stories is that it is not God who brings the disorder or confusion, but humans who bring it on themselves. The onus lies with humans and not with God. God does what God is meant to do simply because humans have not done what they were required to do.

It is in this context that we must look at the related story which is part of the Gospel text of today namely who belongs to the family of Jesus. In these verses, the family of Jesus is introduced in a negative manner. They want to restrain Jesus because people were saying that Jesus had gone out of his mind. One possible reason why people would have thought that he “out of his mind” was because he was working miracles and this could have been seen as associated with magic and such persons could either be banned or even executed. His family thus comes to take him away by force.

Mark indicates that the family of Jesus are hostile to him. They are “outside” while Jesus is “inside” the house. Their position is the opposite of that of Jesus. This too indicates that they are not disciples. Jesus then defines family in terms of those who do the will of God.

Both Adam and Eve in the first reading of today, the scribes and the family of Jesus in the Gospel text of today are striking examples of what it means not to do the will of God. It is to close oneself to the revelation that God is constantly making. It is to close one’s eyes and heart and refuse to see. Adam and Eve were not able to see because they did not trust the word of God spoken to them. The word of the serpent ends up putting the word of God in question.

The scribes and family of Jesus on the other hand were not able to see because they had decided in advance how the Word made manifest in Jesus must and conduct himself. He had to fit their stereotype for them to believe. If he did not the would reject him, accuse him or try to restrain him.

The fact that Adam and Eve were the first human beings was no guarantee that they would obey God. The fact that the scribes were learned men and knew the law was no guarantee that they would see God in Jesus. The fact that the family of Jesus were related to him by blood was no guarantee that they would understand him.

We may imagine that because we have been baptized and bear the name Christian we are automatically counted as members of Jesus’ family. However, baptism alone will not make us members of Jesus’ family, but the living out of the baptismal promises in our lives. This living out of the baptismal promises is what the Christians at Corinth are invited by Paul to do. To believe in Jesus and to understand him does not mean a mere verbal assent but a living out of the faith that is professed. It is never to lose heart despite the fact that things might not always go the way we plan. It is not to be taken in or up by what is temporary and passing, but to focus on that which is permanent and lasting. It is to continue to obey, believe, trust and hope even in the face of all odds.