Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6
When our minds are made up, we don’t appreciate being confused with facts. Some facts however, like the healing of the possessed man, will just not go away. So, in order to avoid being confused by it, the scribes come up with an “explanation” that would erase any potential confusion: it is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons. Jesus detects in their stance two things right away: inconsistency and obstinacy. And he deals with them one at a time.
He first points out to them that they are not making any sense: how could Satan be against Satan? —it would be Satan’s own ruin. Then, in Matthew’s version of the episode [12:22-32], he uses an argument “ad hominem”: if it is through Satan that I drive devils out, through whom do your own exorcists do it? Your stance is inconsistent.
But it is their obstinacy, the fact that their minds are so rigidly made up in advance, that really bothers Jesus. He will forgive and embrace sinners, who had either not known better or been all too weak, but had shown some openness in their hearts. He forgives Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, the woman who was known in her town as a sinner... But the obstinate are closed to the action of the Spirit in their hearts and so cannot be forgiven. Not because God is incapable of offering forgiveness, but because they are incapable of accepting forgiveness. How can I accept forgiveness, when no room is left in my heart for the forgiver’s action?
None of us likes being shown inconsistent, when our way of living
does not conform to the name Christian we bear. Understandably some
of us are tempted to rationalize, to find “explanations” that would defuse
the inconsistency. But is that not in itself a sign of obstinacy?
When our life choices clash with our baptismal (or vowed) commitment and
we cling to them doggedly all the same, we are closing our hearts to God’s
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook