Browsing Reflections

Fr. Jo's Reflection for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time Yr B, June 9, 2024

It appears our age has declared a no-holds-barred match for vile, untamed and unsavory speech. Use of expletives in speech are the new normal, in so far as they’re pelted on others of different ideological camp. Our Lord Himself was also a recipient of vicious and generous insults from people who wished to destroy His reputation and the mission to which He gave His all. So, take consolation when you’re so vilified.    

Our Lord received full frontal accusations not only from his avowed nemeses—the scribes and Pharisees—but also from His family. Because He went doing His Father’s work, Jesus’ relatives deliberated on His situation, concluding that He was out of His mind; they determined to seize Him by force and bring Him home. On the other front were the scribes who, out of envy at the mighty works Jesus was doing, concocted a charge against Him—saying that He casts out demons through the prince of demons, Beelzebul. Jesus responds that it’s not even logically sound to say that evil is removed by evil, unless one is unwilling to see the contradiction—and yes, hatred can so blind a person that he or she refuses to see the difference between evil and good.

Sounds a lot like the right or left wing ideological positions of today. With their branch of the media, they create human abstractions to rampage their opponents, with lies and slurs they’re all too ready to furnish for varnishing their guile. Victims of this tragedy convince themselves that they have the ‘right to be evil’ and disparage anyone who would not capitulate to their world order. This is what Jesus calls blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. St. John Paul II describes it in his encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Dominum et vivificantem (46): Sin against the Holy Spirit is “the sin committed by the person who claims to have a ’right’ to persist in evil—in any sin at all—and who thus rejects Redemption.” The Catechism teaches that, though there is no limit to God’s mercy, “anyone who deliberately refuses to accept His mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 1864). The Church teaches us to be on our guard against these six particular infractions of the moral law that are categorized as sins against the Holy Spirit:

Despairing of salvation – concluding that one cannot be saved; hence, there’ll be no need trying. The evil one may be at the root of that suggestion. No created human being is beyond salvation.

Presumption of salvation – we’re to avoid the heretical view that once saved always saved (double predestination). It can lead to a hardness of heart and persistence in sin.

Denying a revealed truth – once an individual closes his or her mind to an article of faith revealed by God, the person puts himself or herself above God and denies God’s omniscience.

Envying other peoples’ grace – an individual who is sad about the grace in others – even though the person may already possess the same gift.

Obstinacy in sin – one who believes that he or she cannot repent from a sinful condition denies redemption and salvation.

Final impenitence – a heart that is not disposed to grace will surrender to sinfulness and a death of the soul. As you live your life so you die.

A word about the brothers and sisters of Jesus. I won’t waste time on the claim by Marian-haters that the Blessed Mother had other children. The important point raised is the new foundation for the messianic family. Jesus elevates to the status of family His disciples and all who hear the word of God and observe it—implying that natural ties won’t suffice, neither would tribal or ethnic heritages nor denominational affiliations alone guarantee access. The mothers of the messianic family would bring forth Jesus into the world (Gal 4:19).  

Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo


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