Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday in Proper 3: When forgiveness is not desired

Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

Collect of the Day
Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 25

Lessons: Proverbs 10:1-12, 1 Timothy 1:1-17, Matthew 12:22-32

"And all the people," Matthew writes, "were amazed, and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?'" What had happened to cause the people to begin asking openly if Jesus might be the long awaited Anointed One? He had healed "a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute . . . so that the man spoke and saw." There were some, however, who did not share in the enthusiasm, for "when the Pharisees heard it, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.'"

Not only was this claim callous, it was also perilous, placing these self-proclaimed religious know-it-alls in danger of eternal separation from God. Jesus warns them that "every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

What was it which the Pharisees said which placed them outside the forgiveness of God? What was their "blasphemy against the Spirit?" Was it merely an outward act, a careless word spoken out of ignorance or hard-heartedness? Did the Pharisees' real sin involve only the words of their mouths, or did it involve, moreso, the attitude of their hearts? Were not their careless words merely a manifestation of a callous attitude which so clouded their perception that they could not even acknowledge, much less glorify, God even when the power of his Holy Spirit was on display right before their very eyes?

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin not because of any failure on God's part to forgive "every sin and blasphemy." Rather, "whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" because such forgiveness is not desired. The merciful, forgiving, and healing God revealed in and through Jesus Christ is a total stranger to such a person, so much so that he is unable to give God all the glory, but instead gives the devil all the credit.


Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire