Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What's good is good, and what's evil is evil.

Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin. - Mark 3:28-29

As I pondered this passage from the Gospel according to St. Mark, a couple of things came to my mind. First of all was Jesus' use of the term Amen. It is an interesting little word that is the response of the people at the end of a prayer through which we affirm with all our heart that the prayer just spoken is our own prayer; in essence we are saying "Ditto."

When Jesus used the term Amen before he spoke, he was saying, "Listen carefully because this is crucial." (Or as we used to say in college and medical school, "This is going to be on the test.") Jesus was solemnly assuring us that what he was about to say held such importance that it must be adhered to in order for someone to be his follower. It was a verbal underlining or asterisk. Get the picture?

So, when Jesus spoke of blasphemy, he was very specific about what was serious blasphemy. Blasphemy of any kind would be forgiven, but not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because such blasphemy was an everlasting sin. Now, most people have this idea that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to not believe in God. This could very well fall under the definition, but I believe that the blasphemy about which Jesus speaks is something much more insidious than a glaring rejection of God by not acknowledging his existence.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in its ugliest and most insidious form can be deciphered by understanding Jesus' comment in the context of the discussion going on at the time. The scribes were accusing Jesus of being posessed by Beelzebul, and they proclaimed that it was through the prince of darkness that Jesus drove out demons. Jesus counters with the "a house divided against itself can never stand" argument, and then makes the statement about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The key to understanding what Jesus meant by that statement is based on this.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is simply reversing the roles of good and evil so that what is good is seen as evil and what is evil is seen as good. When you contemplate this, it is easy to realize why Jesus says that it is an "everlasting sin" because if you accept as good that which is really evil, you will never know to repent! How could you? You think it is good! And if you are convinced what is truly good is evil, you will always reject it because you are convinced it is evil (when in reality it is good). This is why it is so insidious, and why we must be open to God's truth for to close ourselves to it is to render as evil that which is good.

When we understand this concept, it is kind of scary to think of how much in today's secular world fits into this category. I mean, the obvious things are heinous evils like abortion, but more insidious is something like artificial contraception which the Church has always taught is intrinsically evil. In today's world, artificial contraception is touted as the answer to poverty and world hunger which has come about due to overpopulation. It is seen by the world as a good thing, and the Church is seen as evil for rejecting such a good thing as evil.

Ultimately we need to see blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as the perversion of the truth that it is. In today's secular world, the truth is relative to the individual. It is in this culture of relativism that we have been born, and it is only through understanding of the teachings of Christ, the eternal Word of God, that we can know the real truth and fight the perversion of that truth which is so rampant in our world today.


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