22 Jan – Memorial of Saint Vincent, Deacon, Martyr
Friend of Saint Valerius of Saragossa in Spain, and served as his deacon. Imprisoned and tortured in Valencia, Spain for his faith during the persecutions of Diocletian; part of his time was spent being burned on a gridiron. While in prison, he converted his jailer. Was finally offered release if he would give up the scripture texts for burning, but he refused. Martyr. Acts written by the poet Prudentius.
– Patron Saint Index
2 Samuel 5:1-7,10
All the tribes of Israel then came to David at Hebron. ‘Look’ they said ‘we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, “You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. He reigned in Hebron over Judah for seven years and six months; then he reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
David and his men marched on Jerusalem against the Jebusites living there. These said to David, ‘You will not get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off. (That is to say: David will never get in here.) But David captured the fortress of Zion, that is, the Citadel of David.
David grew greater and greater, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
But let anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness
Strong opinions are dangerous. Strong opinions expressed too strongly push us to a place we find impossible to back down from. Caught up in the moment, we stake more and more on being right – our reputations are suddenly up for debate.
In today’s Scripture reading, the Jewish scribes viciously ‘defend their end zone’ with the collective weight of their knowledge and their position as religious elders of their time. Much is at stake here. Their whole self-worth is tied up in being right. In the heat of an argument, with tempers flaring, it is entirely possible that perhaps they weren’t thinking straight and let their pride do the talking for them. They talked themselves to a place they couldn’t back down from, a place where they undermined themselves and inadvertently, blasphemed against the work of the Holy Spirit. Did they knowingly do it? Maybe, but that’s what happens when reason takes flight to pride and passion. We get careless and say things we regret.
I’ve often wondered about the Unforgivable Sin. What if I’ve committed it out of carelessness? We’ve all been in heated arguments before. “The tongue… is in itself a whole world of evil. It infects the whole being and sets fire to our world with the very fire of hell… nobody can control the tongue. It is an untiring whip, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless God, our Father, and also to curse those made in God’s likeness.” (James 3: 6-9). Have I, like the Jewish scribes, undermined the Spirit’s work unwittingly, when in a moment of anger and carelessness, I criticized a brother in Christ?
For we all carry the Holy Spirit within us, the Spirit which inspires us to do His deeds. When I judge someone, am I also judging the Holy Spirit and in so doing, committing the Unpardonable Sin? Food for thought as we go about this week.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the strength to restrain ourselves, when tempers flare and arguments become too heated, lest we say something we regret.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, who guides each of our actions. We pray for the wisdom to always be able to listen and practise restraint, despite the noise of our own passions.