Hebrews 9:15,24-28; Psalm 97(98):1-6; Mark 3:22-30
Emerging from nowhere special - the back of beyond - a new word intrigues the scribes enough to take the week long journey from the temple in Jerusalem to hear it. And to say they were worried is an understatement, as the word is saying that all must change. The word is also healing and casting out demons, which the scribes can not and do not try to deny. However they do not understand how, and so accuse this new word of using the dark powers of the devil to perform these powerful acts.
Jesus responds with parables - stories with a deeper meaning, and which required interpretation to understand. And of course, humans being humans the interpretation varied (And still does!) One of those sayings of Jesus that certainly can be difficult to interpret and understand is that of the 'sin which can not be forgiven', that of blaspheming against the holy spirit. This is 'an eternal sin' that can only be forgiven by God - and indeed we can be sure that God will forgive if we are open to God's forgiveness. From this arrises the concept today of the two types of sin, venial and mortal. Only a mortal sin requires us to seek the sacrament of confession, all other sin being forgiven in the penitential rite at the start of every Mass. A mortal sin is any sin that separates us from God - which is blocking us from accepting God's healing.
Our conscience will let each of us know if our sin is keeping us from God's forgiveness. This is the time of year when our young children on the first holy communion program receive their fist sacrament of reconciliation. We must remember then in our prayers, and also pray that God will inform our consciences, and that we may be aware of any sin that is coming between us and his love - and perhaps we can get to confession during Lent and accept God's loving forgiveness before Easter.