Thursday, July 17, 2014
The spirit of goodness
20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
1. There is no appropriate time to do good, rather do good always.
In the beginning of Mark chapter 3 a man with a withered hand approaches Jesus. Jesus asks those there whether it is lawful to do good or to harm on the Sabbath and whether to save life or to kill? They remain silent and Jesus asks the man to stretch out his hand and heals it.
The very famous one liner of the comedian Sreenivasan to Mohanlal is very popular among Keralites. “Ellathinum athindethaya samayam undu daasa.” It can be translated as "everything has it’s time". But Jesus here questions this concept of good and bad time. The time is when it comes. It is the urge to do good when we see injustice and suffering. The people in Syria, Iraq and Palestine are suffering for reasons not theirs. But the international community continues to wait for an appropriate time to do something. When will this time come? Is it dependent on rules and conventions?
The truth of the matter is that there is no appropriate or correct time. Suffering should force us into action instead of waiting to see whether we can or not. Jesus asked the Pharisees whether it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. They kept quiet and waited. Jesus on the other hand asked the man with the withered hand to stretch it out and healed him.
2. Never blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, rather affirm your neighbours.
When the scribes accused Jesus of having an unclean spirit they were in essence questioning his character and actions. They were suggesting bad over good and death over life. There was a clear character assassination of Jesus’ self and being. This unwarranted criticism was not done for good but in the effort of destroying the spirit of Jesus. Jesus hit back by saying that they can get away with everything else but won’t get away with blaspheming against the spirit.
What does this mean for us today? What it means is that we should stop criticizing and attacking others in church. If everyone truly believes in the invocation of the Holy Spirit during baptism and communion, how can the other person be bad? How then can we allege bad character, immorality and imperfectness in our neighbour in the church and other places? How can this happen when they also possess the same spirit that we have. This then is an attack on the Holy Spirit itself and an attack on the very essence of a human being, both female and male. How on earth can be get away with this unwarranted and uncalled for attack on others who are the same as us? What on the other hand can be followed is the affirmation that Jesus does for the man with the withered hand. Jesus does not wonder or question the reason for why the man's hand was withered. Rather he asks him to stretch it out. It works out into a handshake of good faith and affirmation.
The call to all of us is clear. Look around and continue to do good instead of looking for appropriate times and the clarity of the rule book and stop humiliating and insulting our neighbours in church and society and start affirming them.
(Picture courtesy www.lavistachurchofchrist.org)