Father James Swanson, LC
to podcast version here.
Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, everyone
who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will
acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies
me before others will be denied before the angels
of God. Everyone who speaks a word against the Son
of Man will be forgiven, but the one who
blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers
and authorities, do not worry about how or what your
defense will be or about what you are to
say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that
moment what you should say."
Lord, I believe that you are present here as
I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have
confidence in your desire to give me every grace
I need to receive today. Thank you for your love,
thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I
give you my life and my love in return.
Petition: Grant me, Lord, the grace to
stand up for my beliefs today.
Cowardly for Martyrdom: Sometimes it’s very difficult to acknowledge
Jesus before others. We think of the possibility of
martyrdom, and we all wonder if we would be able
to be faithful to Jesus if it meant death.
We may think that we witness to him pretty well
in our everyday lives, but do we really? We
listen to attacks on Jesus and his Church without
objection. Sometimes we even kind of nod or smile as
if to let on that we agree. We would
never say such things ourselves, but we don’t really
stand up for Jesus even when there is no possibility
of martyrdom. How many of us have a terrible
time just making the sign of the Cross in a
public place? It’s a simple thing, something I do
every time I come to the table to eat, but
somehow, it can be incredibly difficult in a restaurant,
where the only burden is that “people might think
I’m a Catholic.”
2. Accepting the Truth: Christ’s teaching
about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit may be worrisome
because we may think that there exists some unforgivable sin.
Yet, there is no unforgivable sin. God’s love and
mercy is all-powerful against sin. Blasphemy against the Holy
Spirit has been understood by the Church to mean
final impenitence -- that the Holy Spirit is trying to
convince us of our sins and we won’t accept
them. If we are finally convinced, there is no blasphemy
against the Holy Spirit. However, if we die without
having accepted his truth, then we will be guilty
of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Do I let the
Holy Spirit convince me of my sinfulness? Are there
things that the Church teaches as wrong that I
don’t want to accept? Are there sins that I think
aren’t too bad because I want to make them
a part of my life? Sins cannot be forgiven if
they are not accepted as sins.
with My Life: Maybe we don’t worry too much about
being hauled into court for our Christianity, but we
still have to testify to it every day with our
lives. No matter where we go or what we
do, we are witnesses to our belief in Christ. The
Greek word “martyr” means “witness.” I need to let
the Holy Spirit speak through me when I am
in front of others. People will be judging not just
me, but all Christians by my actions, so I
need to live charity as the mark of a
genuine Christian. I need to foster the humility of a
person who looks at the greatness and holiness of
God the Father and yet recognizes his own pettiness
and sinfulness. I need to live all the virtues in
the concrete circumstances of my daily life. The only
way I can do all these things is by letting
the Holy Spirit speak through the actions of my
life, so that my life is the testimony that
others need it to be.
Christ: Dear Jesus, I can hear your call
to a deeper intimacy with you. I want to draw
closer, yet at times, I also feel reluctance. Help
my weak will. Inflame my heart with a greater
love for you so that I can be a true
“martyr”, a witness to your faithful love. Open my
heart to your Holy Spirit so that I live as
a true Christian.
I am in front of others, I will foster
the awareness that I am a witness to the truth
of Christ’s revelation and try to let the Holy
Spirit speak through my actions.