sabato 9 giugno 2018

«Reus aeterni delicti»

Jesus’ ministry was very successful: if you remember, when he began to preach in the synagogue of Capernaum, the people were astonished, for he taught as one having authority and not as the scribes. Moreover, he did not limit himself to speaking, but he also drove out demons and healed the sick. So, people flocked to him from everywhere. Today’s gospel tells us that, while he was at home with his disciples, “the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.” 

But not all appreciated this success. In today’s gospel we find two negative reactions. The first comes from Jesus’ relatives: they say, “He is out of his mind.” The second reaction comes from the scribes. They level two accusations against Jesus: first of all, they charge him of being a demoniac (“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” “He has an unclean spirit”); and then they attribute his power over demons to Satan (“By the prince of demons he drives out demons”).

Jesus first answers this latter charge by a parable, to show that it is impossible for Satan to drive out himself. There is need of someone stronger then him, who can tie up him and plunder his house. Jesus is precisely this man, stronger than Satan, come to defeat Satan. It is interesting to notice that in this parable Jesus does not talk only of the house of Satan, but also of his kingdom. It means that Jesus has come to bring the kingdom of God to replace the kingdom of Satan in the world.

Then Jesus responds to the first charge of the scribes, who accuse him of being possessed. Jesus, who is generally lenient, becomes now surprisingly strict, “Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin” (reus aeterni delicti). How come is Jesus so harsh? How can he speak of an everlasting sin, that cannot be forgiven? Are there sins stronger than divine mercy? Yes, there are. To understand what Jesus means, we have to consider that we cannot be saved by ourselves; we need God’s mercy. The problem is that, if we deliberately oppose the mercy of God, we prevent him from saving us, and we remain without any other opportunity of salvation. In this case, the scribes jeopardize their salvation, because they are not able to recognize the action of God in what Jesus does; they mistake the Holy Spirit for the prince of the demons; they attribute to Satan what is actually the work of the Holy Spirit. The catechetical tradition has detailed six “sins against the Holy Spirit,” that cannot be forgiven: 1. despair of salvation; 2. presumption of God’s mercy; 3. impugning the known truth; 4. envy at another’s spiritual good; 5. obstinacy in sin; 6. final impenitence. Let us keep away from these sins, if we do not want to compromise our salvation!

Finally, Jesus responds also to his relatives, who have come to seize him, because they consider him out of his mind. They have been able even to trouble Mary, to convince him to desist and come back home with them. But Jesus reminds them that family ties become less important now that new relationships have been established, based on faith, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Family is a very important institution; it comes before all other human institutions. According tho the Catechism, it “is the original cell of social life” (n. 2207). We have to remember this truth now that they are doing all they can to destroy it. But there is something more important than family—Christ. Compared to him, family disappears; the relationship with him is much more important than blood ties.