The Unforgivable Sin

20 October 2006: Friday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 12, 1-7: The Unforgivable Sin

The passage from the Gospel of Luke is called a charaz. A charaz is actually a string of pearls. But with it a Jewish preaching technique: one has to talk about different ideas, not exactly connected with each other, in order to keep the audience’s attention. Unlike today, modern teachers and preachers are advised to keep their ideas logical.

Today let me talk about just one thing. A part of the passage tells us about the unforgivable sin: the sin against the Holy Spirit. Jesus talks about this unforgivable sin after the Pharisees and scribes attributed the healing miracles of Jesus to devils, instead of God. This incident is recorded both in Matthew 12, 31-32 and Mark 3, 28-29. The circumstances surrounding this message of Jesus should be taken into consideration.

First, when Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit, He meant the way the Jews understood the Spirit. The Jews believed that it was through the Spirit that God shared the truth to us. In addition, we are able to recognize God and His work in our lives, also through the Spirit. This ability to recognize and grasp God’s truth is given to all of us.

However, like all our talents and abilities, it has to be used. For example, if God has given you the ability to sing, and you do not practice and use this ability, soon it will be lost. Many people have started something when they were young. Some have taken piano and dance lessons. Some have started painting and sketching. But if they stop playing the piano, dancing, painting, and sketching for a very long time, somehow those abilities disappear.

The same way with the faculty of recognizing God: if one refuses to use this ability, eventually we will lose the capability to grasp God’s truth. How do we lose it? By refusing it repeatedly and constantly. Like forming a bad habit. Let us look at our sins. The first time we lied, we felt guilty. Then the second time came, and we felt that it was not really too bad because we were able to protect ourselves from harm. The third, the fourth, the fifth time, we find ourselves getting used to it. Until, we become the bad habit itself: we become liars. By the time we become liars, we have already convinced ourselves that lying is good. Thus, the Pharisees and the scribes who have habitually and repeatedly went on their way and shutting themselves from God, did not recognize God when Jesus came, they attributed His actions to evil.

Why is the sin against the Spirit unforgivable? Because in this state --- when someone does not recognize God, or when someone thinks that they have not sinned at all, when in fact they have --- repentance is impossible. How can someone repent when in the first place, they do not recognize and grasp the truth that they have sinned? They have not brought themselves even to the first step in asking for forgiveness.

We may all have recognized some truth about ourselves and about God. But today, we are further challenged to look deeper into our lives and see what more truth have we refused to admit and accept. What dark secrets lay in ourselves that needs awareness so that, when we are able to shed light on them, we are able to respond to them, than be controlled by them? And when we are able to face them, then the truth can set us free.

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