Last weekend at coffee, juice and DONUTS, a parishioner asked me about the unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin is described in Mark 3:28-30. He shared that there was a lively discussion about the subject in their book study group. First of all, it is music to my ears to hear that you all are having great discussions about the scriptures.
I shared with him that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is sometimes interpreted as the refusal of God’s mercy. Consequently, if I have a very dark sin and am humiliated about it, I may very well think that I am beyond the arm of God’s mercy. This does happen, but not all that often.
The consistent interpretation in out tradition is that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit concerns the sins of impenitence. St. Augustine states that the sin is an unwillingness to repent and be forgiven. St. John Paul II states that it is “the sin committed by the person who claims to have a ‘right’ to persist in evil—in any sin at all—and thus rejects Redemption.” This occurs when we know that we are sinning, acting contrary to the way of life revealed to us in Jesus, and stubbornly refuse to seek forgiveness. This impenitence may result from a resistance to change our behavior.
I would like to add another variance on the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is to deny the existence of a sin. For example, in college I used to believe there was nothing wrong with copying cassettes—yes, it’s been a while. I had a great collection of music and talks on the life of faith that I dubbed from other people. Plus, it was socially acceptable. Everyone was doing it. I simply rejected the idea that it was a sin.
This type of sin against the Holy Spirit is especially prevalent in our age of relativism and subjectivism. These philosophies of life make the individual or community the authority in determining if an action or behavior is right or wrong. I notice that the denial of sin frequently involves sins against the flesh, including, masturbation, contraception, fornication, immodesty and homosexual activity to name a few. The common response, “it’s my body” and “it’s only natural” and “we love each other.”
The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, but he is also our accuser in that he brings to light everything that is separating us from the love of God. Let us not be afraid to seek mercy for those actions we are ashamed of, nor remain stubbornly and hardened in our sin, nor, give into the strong voices within ourselves and our culture to deny the existence of certain sins.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastorblog comments powered by Disqus