As the summer starts to get rolling along now, we have something rather serious to consider in the Gospel this weekend. It’s one of those curious parts of Jesus’ teachings, and He just kinda slips it in there 2/3 of the way through the Gospel – the unforgivable sin.
You and I, we tend to be very good at looking at other people’s sins and judging them to be unforgivable. Be honest – when we hear of someone doing something, see it on the news or read it in the paper, or hear it at work on Monday morning, we are so very very good at judging. Most especially when we determine someone’s sin to be so heinous, so wretched and awful, that we say things like – they should be fed to the wolves, or cut up into little pieces, or burned alive before they spend eternity in hell – you know, all the things Jesus tells us exactly not to do….yeah, we’re good at that. Remember the caution, don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than we do. Good advice, for all of us!
The Psalm today says, With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. And thanks be to God for that – cause I don’t know about you, but I surely rely on the mercy and forgiveness of God for all the plethora of ways in which I fail to follow Him faithfully. God’s mercy and redemption is a most necessary thing….for all of us!
But today Jesus tells us that there is one thing that is unforgivable. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. And yes, feel free to scratch your head
and ask yourself, what the heck is that.
Think back to a few weeks ago when we celebrated Pentecost. Jesus standing in the upper room with the Apostles, breathing on them, giving them the Holy Spirit and saying to them - Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church as the Agent for the forgiveness of Sin. All Sin, so long as we are repentant. Nothing, therefore, is unforgivable, so long as we repent. And Thanks be to God for that.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit then, is very simple, what we call Final Impenitence – ultimately refusing to allow God to forgive us, refusing to believe we are worthy of forgiveness, refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to Himself, to heal us, to restore us, to reconcile us to the Father – out of our stubbornness, out of an horrendously deluded belief that some sin of ours is beyond God’s ability to forgive us. No sin of ours, or anyone else’s, is ever capable of being greater than God’s love for us, if only we actually allow God to love us more than we lust after ourselves.
Yes it’s summer – so as we throw off the sweaters and go to the beach or whatever, let’s throw off our impenitence too - let’s get over it and embrace God’s merciful and redeeming forgiveness, no matter how long we have hid from it – before one day we find ourselves having to deal with the one thing Jesus says won’t be forgiven, our final stubbornness. God help us all. +