OCTOBER 16. Ord Time. Wk 28. Sat. Lk 12. 8-12
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.
‘Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
‘When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.’
Christ, in continuing his preaching and encouragement to his disciples now highlights the importance of bearing witness to his teachings “in the presence of men” as his own presence before crowds; such as those he is speaking to in today’s gospel; - he knows is coming to an end. The work of spreading the Faith will soon fall to his disciples and their followers.
He then points out that significant blessingnss will be theirs as he will “declare himself for them in the presence of angels” which means in the presence of God the Father. This is a divine undertaking we should reflect on regularly as it is something easy to overlook; - Christ’s commitment to intercede for his followers before his Father in heaven!
But equally important is the warning also given here to his followers who do not bear witness to his teachings and values; - “But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels,” – a warning that carries dire consequences for half-hearted or mediocre Christians!
Interestingly, this warning is followed by a statement indicating mercy will always be available to his followers due to his being aware of the temptations facing them in a sinful world, where there are temptations from Satan, his angels, and non-believers; - “Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven!” This undertaking is designed to encourage Christ’s followers when they fail!
But there is a separate danger for anyone who “blasphemes against the Holy Spirit”, as they will not be forgiven! What is meant by this would apply to many of Christ’s dealings with the Pharisees. Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit involves claiming divine actions are as a result of Satan’s work; - and such actions will not be forgiven!
An example is when Jesus casts out devils, or performs a miracle, and the Pharisees claim it is the work of Satan or “Beelzebub” the prince of devils. In such situations the Pharisees were cutting themselves off from God, as they are rejecting Jesus Christ, his teachings, and his miracles; - and in so doing they are despising the Holy Spirit and his graces.
The final encouragement to his followers in this reading was that they were not to worry about how to provide answers to community leaders should they be called before them to give witness to their faith; - “Do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.’
The point of this teaching being to have trust in God; - rather than the alternative; - to trust in ourselves and our own “wisdom” and “ability”; - a very dangerous practice for Christians!
Gospel Acclamation Jn15:26,27
The Spirit of Truth will bear witness to me, says the Lord,
and you also will be my witnesses.
First reading Romans 4:13,16-18 ·
Abraham hoped and believed and became the father of many nations
The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.
Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.