Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1:Genesis 3:9-15

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130:1-8

Reading 2: 2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1

Gospel: Mark 3:20-35

In the first reading, God asks a peculiar question, “Where are you?”  Not only is God omniscient, but he is looking for the only two people that exist in one tiny garden.  Even though they were hiding, my guess is God could still have found them.  After Adam unintentionally admits that they have eaten of the tree of good and evil, God then asks why they would do such a thing.

This questioning and perplexed God is not seeking factual knowledge as God knows where Adam and Eve are and what they have done.  Instead, God is giving them a chance to repent of the serpent’s view of the world.  The serpent’s view is all too familiar.  The serpent presents the prohibition on eating from the tree of good and evil as God’s way to show his dominance over human beings. Thus, the serpent implies, humans must eat the fruit to seize power and control from God.  Only by being on top, by subordinating others, will one have meaning in life and be “like God.”  It is a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, and might makes right.  The serpent’s temptation is that power makes one divine.

One sees the serpent’s view in the gospel as well.  When Jesus heals people, the scribes are threatened by his power.  People looked and listen to Jesus, but the scribes thought him to be undermining their authority and so the meaning of their lives.  So, they shout that he is evil, “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

In response, Jesus’ seems to offer a similar vision that power is the way of life. He claims he is stronger than Satan, that he is “strong man” coming to “plunder his [Satan’s] property.” However, God’s power does not rest in a “strong man.”  In Genesis, God is asking Adam and Eve what happens because God is hoping they will acknowledge what is going on and this will be an occasion of reconciliation. They would realize that God was not keeping something from them – God had already given them everything, a place to live, work to do, and companions to be with, and would give them more – but was rather offering them an opportunity to be in a free, trusting, and loving relationship with God.  Instead, Adam and Eve turn on each other and God, following the serpent’s logic that the only way for life to have meaning is by having power over others.

God’s way – God’s power if you will – is not through conquest and domination. The Psalmist sings of God’s way:

But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the LORD.
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption
and he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.

Forgiveness, kindness, redemption, these are God’s strength and what gives life meaning.  This is the essence of God and what truly makes us like God.  It is what Jesus teaches:  forgive each other, redeem each other, and be kind to each other.  This is what conquers Satan’s house, not armies and muscles, but love and kindness.

This, I think, is what the “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit” is.  It is a failure to believe that the heart of creation is love.  It is unforgiveable because it means you have instead chosen to pursue power over people.  In living out this life, you will forgive less, redeem less, and be less kind. Pain and suffering will increase. There is no forgiveness for this cruelty . . . . unless one comes out from hiding, repenting of this worldview, and seeks with all one’s heart, mind, and soul God’s way, the way of love.