YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: DON’T REFUSE THE GRACE OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS
BY: Rev. Fr. John Louis
READINGS: Genesis 3:9-15/ 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1/ Mark 3:20-35
The first reading reminds us that by sin we fall short of God’s glory (Genesis 3:9-15). Whereas this could be disheartening, the second reading encourages us not to lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1), because God’s mercy is ever present (cf. Responsorial Psalm). Because of His mercy, God offers us the grace of forgiveness. As grace, forgiveness is a favour from God.
A favour is offered and not imposed on another person. It could, therefore, be accepted or rejected. Similarly, the favour of God’s forgiveness could be accepted or rejected. In contrast to the scribes who, according to today’s gospel reading, rejected God’s favour (Mark 3:20-35), this message encourages us to always accept the favour of God’s forgiveness. The Fall of Man and Woman: By disobeying God’s instruction not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad (Gen. 2:17; 3:1-7) Adam and Eve, and consequently, we their offspring have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The loss of God’s glory is what Adam and Eve experienced as becoming naked (Gen. 3:7, 10-11).
Do not lose heart: Our fall from God’s glory is, however, not the end of our story, so we should not lose heart (cf. second reading). St. John also encourages us: ‘My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:1-2; RSVCE).
Should we unfortunately sin, we should quickly recall that God’s mercy has not come to an end and it will never come to an end. Instead of losing heart because of our sins, the conviction of the Psalmist should be ours: ‘with the Lord there is mercy, in him is plentiful redemption’ (Psalm 130:7; Responsorial Psalm). Whereas the leaves of the fig tree were inadequate or ineffective in covering the nakedness of Adam and Eve, the mercy of God supplies us with more than enough spiritual clothing – namely, his forgiveness. Through his forgiveness, made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are clothed with God’s glory again. In other words, through his forgiveness, we regain the radiant holiness of the soul. Therefore, instead of losing heart, we should rejoice in the fact that God’s mercy has turned the misfortune of sin into a blessing for us. This is how it is beautifully expressed in the Easter Proclamation or the Exsultet (sang by the priest at the Easter Vigil): ‘O truly necessary sin of Adam … O happy fault that earned us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!’
Responding to the offer of forgiveness: God’s forgiveness flows ever freely from his mercy; but, as said earlier on, one may accept or refuse this favour. Today’s gospel gives us an instance when some people (the scribes) refused the favour of forgiveness that God amply demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus Christ. In this specific case, divine mercy is displayed in the deliverance of people who were possessed of demons. For those who were open to the workings of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of God’s mercy was clear. However, the scribes did not encounter God’s mercy and therefore his forgiveness because they refused to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This is an instance of refusal to access mercy. How then could they be forgiven if they refuse to accept it? That is why Jesus says that the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven. This is not a particular sin (e.g. stealing, idolatry or fornication), but rather the refusal to accept God’s favour of forgiveness when the Holy Spirit prompts us to accept it.
Conclusion: Should we unfortunately fall into sin, let us not lose heart. Rather, knowing that God’s mercy is ever present because of Christ’s sacrifice, let us promptly respond to the Spirit’s working in us to seek God’s forgiveness and we shall be definitely forgiven. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis