Scripture Study: Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

View the readings for this Sunday.

Sunday, June 10 - 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time
• Gen 3:9-15
• Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
• 2 Cos 4:13
• Mk 3:20-35

God cannot forgive all our sins.

Let me clarify.

He can forgive every sin we could ever commit except one - the sin against the Holy Spirit.

But do not be afraid.

When you understand what the sin against the Holy Spirit involves, you will feel an even greater appreciation for God's unfathomable mercy.

What Pains God Most
The first reading tells the story of humanity's first sin. Adam and Eve had just disobeyed God, having eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Immediately, Adam becomes so overwhelmed with fear that he hides from the Lord. God approaches him asking, "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9).

Instead of acknowledging his sin and repenting, instead of placing himself in the presence of goodness Himself, Adam tries to flee.

Confronted, Adam blames Eve. He says, "The woman whom you put here with me - she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it" (Gen 3:12). Then God turns to Eve who likewise blames someone else: the serpent.

Though eating the forbidden fruit pained God, it did not pain Him as much as Adam and Eve's behavior did after they had sinned.

God remains on Adam and Eve's side even as they fall from grace. At no point does He cease loving them. In fact, before the Lord does anything else, He places the brunt of the blame on the serpent, punishing him first. Still, in their shame, Adam and Eve doubt His love and goodness.

Adam and Eve acted as the hypothetical despairing soul does in St. Faustina's Diary. The despairing soul says, "Fear fills me at the thought of my sins, and this terrible fear moves me to doubt Your goodness." To which Jesus replies, "My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does - that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness" (1486).

We must never hesitate, as Adam and Eve did, to repent of our sins out of fear. As a child who scrapes his knee immediately runs to his mother, we must show God the wounds we inflict upon ourselves as soon as we can. Only then can He heal us and consume us with His love.

In the same Diary entry, St. Faustina writes about what happens as soon as the despairing soul begins to repent:

Jesus does not let the soul finish [speaking] but, raising it from the ground, from the depths of its misery, he leads it into the recesses of His Heart where all its sins disappear instantly, consumed by the flames of love.

Jesus: Here, soul, are all the treasures of My Heart. Take everything you need from it.

Soul: O Lord, I am inundated with Your grace. ... Encouraged by Your goodness, I will confide to You all the sorrows of my heart.

Jesus: Tell me all, My child, hide nothing from Me, because My loving Heart, the Heart of your Best Friend, is listening to you."

Hiding from God after we sin pains Him more than the initial sin committed. The Lord wants us to come to Him with all our sins, all our wounds, and expect from Him the most merciful, loving response imaginable.

God remains on our side.


In every circumstance.

We have no need to hide or pass blame.

Effects of Sin Worse than Sin Itself

Adam's original sin put Him at odds with God. But His subsequent sin, blaming Eve, put him against his own family.

He blamed her. She denied responsibility.

Sin causes division, especially in our closest relationships.

In the Gospel reading, we learn that even Jesus' family suffered division. Jesus, after all, left the safety of His own home and the security of His career as a carpenter to travel around Judea with several fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot.

In response to His strange behavior, Jesus' relatives call Him "out of his mind" (Mk 3:21).

They call the One who created their own intellect insane.

Of course, Christ's community also suffered great division. Just as He lost credibility with His family, so too did He lose the respect of His community's spiritual leaders: the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Throughout His ministry, Christ demonstrated the power of God by casting out demons. Despite this ostensible sign of His goodness, the Scribes illogically accuse Christ of being "possessed by Beelzebul," driving out demons "by the prince of demons" (Mk 3:22).

The Scribes, therefore, call the power of God evil.

Christ rebukes them saying, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mk 3:23).

Jesus calls this accusation that "He has an unclean spirit" a blasphemy "against the Holy Spirit" (Mk 3:30). Out of all the sins ever committed, only insisting that God's power is evil can separate us from Him for all eternity.

Of this sin against the Holy Spirit, Scripture commentator William Barclay says:

The Holy Spirit enabled men to recognize God's truth when it entered their lives. But if a man refuses to exercise any God-given faculty he will in the end lose it. If he lives in the dark long enough he will lose the ability to see. If he stays in bed long enough he will lose the power to walk. If he refuses to do any serious study he will lose the power to study. And if a man refuses the guidance of God's Spirit often enough he will become in the end incapable of recognizing that truth when he sees it. Evil to him becomes good and good evil. He can look on the goodness of God and call it the evil of Satan.

Adam and Eve's behavior after they sin foreshadows this sin against the Holy Spirit. Sinning against the Holy Spirit starts with hiding oneself from the love, mercy, and goodness of God.

If we doubt God's goodness and hide out of fear whenever we sin, eventually we will start to believe that good is evil and evil is good. We will become like the Scribes and Pharisees. William Barclay continues:

If a man, by repeated refusals of God's guidance, has lost the ability to recognize goodness when he sees it, if he has got his moral values inverted until evil to him is good and good to him is evil, then, even when he is confronted by Jesus, he is conscious of no sin; he cannot repent and therefore he can never be forgiven. That is the sin against the Holy Spirit.

God needs our repentance to heal our wounds. But repentance requires us to recognize our own sinfulness. It requires us to come out of hiding toward the light.

In the end, only our insistence that God is not good blocks Him from being able to forgive us, from making us whole, from recreating us into the best versions of ourselves.

Different from Adam and Eve after their sin, the Scribes and the Pharisees do not even recognize their wrongdoing. They puff themselves up with so much pride that they do not think they need to repent of anything. They are too busy looking for the specs in the eyes of others to notice the logs in their own. Therefore, presumption, as well as despair, can lead us to become so spiritually blind that we do not want to repent.

In St. Faustina's [I]Diary, she addresses this sin against the Holy Spirit, which even God's mercy cannot penetrate:

Jesus calls to the soul a third time, but the soul remains deaf and blind, hardened and despairing. Then the mercy of God begins to exert itself, and, without any co-operation from the soul, God grants it final grace. If this too is spurned, God will leave the soul in this self-chosen disposition for eternity. This grace emerges from the merciful Heart of Jesus and gives the soul a special light by means of which the soul begins to understand God's effort; but conversion depends on its own will. The soul knows that this, for her, is final grace and, should it show even a flicker of good will, the mercy of God will accomplish the rest (1486).

So no matter where you've been, no matter how long you've been away, if you want peace and joy, run to the Father and show Him your wounds. We all have wounds, no matter how holy we think we might be. Ask the Lord that He teach you not to hide anything from Him. Then throw yourself into His presence and ask the Lord to heal you and make you whole.

Surrender everything to your loving Father, and He will more than forgive your sins. He will shower you with more blessings and graces than you can possibly imagine.

View the previousSunday Scripture Preview.


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