Today’s reading: Matthew 12:22-37
Today we read VERY IMPORTANT words of Jesus. They are extra important because Jesus talks about one sin that will not be forgiven. That sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus says that this sin will not be forgiven it is important to understand what it is as best we can. Jesus defines what this sin is, He says:
And whoever speaks 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.
This is a strange definition. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But if you speak against Jesus you can be forgiven but if you speak against the Holy Spirit then you’re out of luck. This doesn’t make sense, so there must be something more. What then is the difference between the two? It must have something to do with the nature of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the love between the Father and the Son. We know that it is because God loves us that He created us and it is because of His love for us that he is willing to forgive our sins. Finally, this teaching of Jesus comes right after He has exorcised a demon from a man and this healing is rejected by the Pharisees. Why did Jesus cure this man? Out of love for him of course. So in rejecting Jesus’ healing the Pharisees are rejecting the love of God. As the Holy Spirit is begotten out of the love of God, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejection of the Love of God. It is seeing and knowing the love and power of God, yet refusing to embrace it. This is what the Pharisees did. They has dramatic living proof of God’s presence and love but they reject it and try to rationalize it. To summarize it, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can be said to be, ‘final impenitence’ or permanent rejection of the love of God.
Also, notice that Jesus says that this sin will not be forgiven “in this age, or in the age to come.” Here Jesus is talking about this world and the afterlife. Thus, this implies that there other sins CAN be forgiven in the next life. Only the sin of refusing God’s love and mercy can’t be forgiven. This establishes free will. Jesus is saying that if you choose to reject his gift of love, God will respect that and not upset that impenitence after death. It also implies that there must be some state / some place after death where those who desire forgiveness can receive forgiveness of their sins after death. We refer to this state as purgatory.
Finally, we see Jesus’ apparent rejection of his mother Mary when she come to speak with him. We read Jesus’ famous statement “Who is my mother? … Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Sometimes this verse is used to diminish the importance and relevance of Mary.
First, it should be straight forward to understand that Jesus could not be speaking poorly about his mother. That would violate the fourth commandment to honor your mother and father. God, who gave us the Commandments, wouldn’t be violating them even in the least. What then are we to make of this scene?
What Jesus is doing here is he is emphasizing that relationship to Him is more important that familial relationships. Those that are in relationship with Jesus are as close, if not closer, than family. Notice, what Jesus says is that, “whoever DOES THE WILL of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Again, we see Jesus emphasizing that it is not faith alone that puts you in relation to him but those who do something, specifically the will of the Father. Now, if there was any human person who did the will of the Father more perfectly than Mary, I can’t guess who that would be. Mary is the new Eve and her “Yes” is the yes that undoes the “No” of the original Eve. In fact, when she says yes to the invitation of the angel Gabriel her statement is, “May it done unto me according TO YOUR WILL.” So Mary is not only Jesus’ mother, she is His first and greatest disciple. She is twice blessed.
Tomorrow: Matthew: 12:38-50