21 October
Lk 12:8-12

"I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say."

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  This statement has given rise to a great deal of debate, particularly because Jesus contrasted it with blasphemy against himself, whose every word and deed was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It may refer to persistent rejection of Jesus rather than to a single act of rejection.   The Holy Spirit is “the spirit of truth,” and to reject the spirit of truth is to be left with no bearings at all.  It is not a matter of taking a wrong turning; it is more like turning all the signposts around.  In mathematical logic, if you accept contradictory premisses you may imagine that nothing can be concluded from them, but in fact everything can be concluded – everything and its opposite.  Nothing is left standing because it is only by the truth that anything can stand, and you have already dispensed with the truth by accepting contradictory premisses.  Everything follows, everything is ‘right’, and so there is no awareness of error: in fact you can show with strict logic that you have not made an error.  It is something like this with the “sin against the Holy Spirit.”  If we dispense with the truth we will never think of asking forgiveness, and so we can never be forgiven.  Sometimes when you read the newspapers you get the feeling that this is what has happened to the whole world: we have become unhinged from any kind of truth; the truth is decided by poll, and every sectional interest invents its own truth. 

“Do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say.”  Your speeches will have been prepared too soon, like an overcooked meal.  A chef said to me once: “The guests should be waiting for the meal, not the meal for the guests.”  Your speeches will have been prepared in a different context and at a different time, and they will be the ego’s work.  But there is the grace of the moment: this is when something happens so suddenly that we don’t have time to gather it into our ego-plan.  We often surprise ourselves by acting quickly and skilfully in an emergency.  It is not so surprising after all: thinking is often just postponement.  If we can do this, imagine what the Holy Spirit can do when we don’t have time to rush in with our plans. 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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