Homily for Jan. 24, Monday of the III week in OT, Memorial of St Francis de Sales
Have you ever done something good just for the sake of helping people, and then for that very reason been accused of dishonesty, hypocrisy, and even malice? It’s not a pleasant experience, and the injustice of it can really hurt. That’s exactly what happens to Jesus in today’s Gospel reading.
As the first reading points out, God had become man in Jesus Christ to die for our eternal salvation. His presence on earth was entirely for our good. The miracles He performed, healing the sick and casting out demons, were at the same time acts of compassion and ways of showing the world Who He was, so people could believe in Him and understand His mission. And yet, the religious leaders accused Him of being possessed by the devil.
This was both illogical – as the Lord clearly explains – and inconsistent with all the evidence of Jesus’ holiness and purity of intention. The vast majority of people who heard Jesus speak and saw His miracles – even people who didn’t believe in the God of the Jews, like the Roman soldiers and other foreigners – were able to recognize HIm as a holy man, and some even saw Him as the Son of God. And yet, many of the Jewish religious elite refused to acknowledge Him. This leads to some of the harshest words in the Gospel: Jesus says that “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness.” Those who reject as demonic the very God who wants to save them, are not in a position to be saved.
This is a sobering warning: we have to be careful never to reject truths of the faith just because we don’t like them or we find them inconvenient; we could be putting our salvation on the line. On the flip side, it is also an invitation to gratitude. God the Father sent His Son and the Holy Spirit to carry out our salvation, and unlike the scribes, we have accepted and embraced that gift through Baptism and through our life in the Church. Let us make reparation for those who have rejected this gift, by showing our gratitude in our works and in our words. As the psalm today says, “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song, sing praise.”