10th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gen 3:8-15; Mk 3:20-35) “The Unforgivable Sin” PDF Version
10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2018): Gen 3:8-15; Mk 3:20-35
After the great feasts of Pentecost, the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi, we move into the longest portion of the Liturgical Year known as Ordinary Time.
As we restart Ordinary Time, it is fitting that two of our readings today will also speak of beginnings. In Genesis, we are taken back to the beginning of all things and the tragedy of Adam and Eve’s fall from Grace. In today’s Gospel, we encounter Christ at the beginning of His Public Ministry and witness how He will continually have to confront the consequences and evil that came into the world through the Original Sin.
Though difficult and often unappealing to confront, as Christians we must speak about sin and the ways it drives us away from God and causes us to inflict evil upon others and ourselves. Yet it is in confronting the reality of sin and seeking to remedy it that we discover true freedom and a foretaste of the life of grace that awaits those who are faithful to God and persevere in His grace to their very last breathe.
By freely choosing sin after being seduced and intimidated by the great serpent, Adam and Eve realize that the supposed freedom and lie of becoming equal to God through disobedience and rejecting their identity as children of God will forever change their relationship with The Lord and one another. Where once there was an intimate friendship with God and the chance to be co-workers with Him in caring for the terrestrial paradise of Eden, now through sin, Adam and Eve forsake this friendship and abide in fear, realizing that they have freely chosen death and separation from the Lord.
They also realize that their relationship with one another will never be the same, as they now look upon each with eyes that are drawn to manipulate and use one another, no longer freely and unconditionally loving each other, but seeing the ways they can use each other for their own gratification and advantage, a realization that leads to an ever deeper sadness and recognition that human love will now be entangled in the consequences of sin.
Yet there is also tremendous hope after the Fall of Eden. When it seems like all was lost and paradise could never again be restored, God pronounces His first promise of salvation. When He tells our First Parents that a child will be born of a future daughter of Eve, He announces the Protoevangelium, the first gospel of Good News, that one day a saviour would arise, who will crush Satan and Sin under His foot, not through worldly power or success, but by laying down His life on a cross that stained in the blood of God, it will become the new Tree of Life that was thought to be lost when Eden was closed to humanity.
After His baptism in the Jordan, Our Lord’s first words were to repent and believe in the Good News, by not only turning away from sinful behaviour, but boldly bringing one’s sins and all the pain that they cause to Jesus Christ, and believing that in His name they can be forgiven and the hope of eternal life can be restored.
We read today that our Lord’s opponents were scandalized that He would claim to be able to forgive sin. For centuries, the People of God had sought to find the remedy to sin and the death it brings. The sacrifices of the Temple mitigated some of sin’s effects but they were not enough to bring about its end. Only in Jesus Christ could this be found, and it is no surprise that Satan would immediately seek to sow doubt and outrage in those who were adverse to the Good News since it would allow the devil’s reign to continue.
Notice how Jesus confronts this attack of His ancient foe: He responds that all sin can be forgiven, even the most vile blasphemies can be forgiven if someone has sorrow for what they have said and done and honestly look to amend their ways! But Our Lord warns the people of His day and each of us that there is one sin that cannot be forgiven, that dread blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
What is this unforgiveable sin? It is a sin of rebellion that blinds people to their own need for forgiveness and when someone will not allow God to forgive them. Respecting the freedom He gave us at the dawn of creation, God will not force us to seek forgiveness and He cannot bestow forgiveness if we refuse to accept it. How tragic it is when someone succumbs to such despair and hopelessness that they convince themselves they are beyond redemption and that God cannot possibly forgive them for what they have done!
Or alternatively, how tragic it is to encounter someone who simply thinks they have nothing to be forgiven for, that they are totally blind to the evil they have done and see no need to accept the healing remedy that is offered by God’s forgiveness.
It should leave us unsettled to consider this sin which cannot be forgiven. This is all the more reason that we as the sons and daughters of God seek out Our Father’s forgiveness when we know we have sinned and to allow our hearts and minds to be opened to know the ways that we may in fact have fallen in sin and yet are unaware of this taking place.
After His Resurrection, Our Lord breathed the Holy Spirit upon the 12 Apostles, commanding them to forgive sins in His name and show the world that the head of the serpent had been crushed because now humanity can be forgiven and will always receive forgiveness if one seeks and finds the means to obtain eternal life.
As your pastor, I wish to extend the invitation to receive from the Lord what was given to the 12 Apostles, the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I realize that being here in the school gym and without a proper confessional makes receiving this sacrament very difficult. I am looking for to remedy this situation during the construction of our new church. You are invited make an appointment with me to receive this sacrament, be it at the parish office or here at the school before or after the weekend Masses.
It is never easy to confess one’s sins! Adam and Eve showed us this to be so at the dawn of creation when they refused to seek God’s forgiveness. But to those who seek forgiveness, offered through the ministry of a priest who is himself a sinner and always in need of God’s mercy, is to keep alive the Good News proclaimed by Jesus Christ and to experience His love whenever we are forgiven in His Holy Name…