Monday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr
From: Mark 3:22-30
Allegations of the Scribes
 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He (Jesus) is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons He casts out the demons."  And He called them to Him, and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.  But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house."
Sins Against the Holy Spirit
 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
22-23. Even Jesus' miracles were misunderstood by these scribes, who accuse Him of being a tool of the prince of devils, Beelzebul. This name may be connected with Beelzebub (which spelling is given in some codexes), the name of a god of the Philistine city of Eqron (Accaron), which means "god of the flies." But it is more likely that the prince of devils is called Beelzebul, which means "god of excrement": "excrement" is the word Jews used to describe pagan sacrifices. Whether Beelzebub or Beelzebul, in the last analysis it refers to him to whom these sacrifices were offered, the devil (1 Corinthians 10:20). He is the same mysterious but real person whom Jesus calls Satan, which means "the enemy", whose dominion over the world Christ has come to wrest from him (1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13f) in an unceasing struggle (Matthew 4:1-10; John 16:11). These names show us that the devil really exists: he is a real person who has at his beck and call others of his kind (Mark 5:9).
24-27. Our Lord invites the Pharisees, who are blind and obstinate, to think along these lines: if someone expels the devil this means he is stronger than the devil: once more we are exhorted to recognize in Jesus the God of strength, the God who uses His power to free man from enslavement to the devil. Satan's dominion has come to an end: the prince of this world is about to be cast out. Jesus' victory over the power of darkness, which is completed by His death and resurrection, shows that the light has already entered the world, as our Lord Himself told us: "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:31-32).
28-30. Jesus has just worked a miracle but the scribes refuse to recognize it "for they had said `He has an unclean spirit'" (verse 30). They do not want to admit that God is the author of the miracle. In this attitude lies the special gravity of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit--attributing to the prince of evil, to Satan, the good works performed by God Himself. Anyone acting in this way will become like the sick person who has so lost confidence in the doctor that he rejects him as if an enemy and regards as poison the medicine that can save his life. That is why our Lord says that he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not forgiven: not because God cannot forgive all sins, but because that person, in his blindness towards God, rejects Jesus Christ, His teaching and His miracles, and despises the graces of the Holy Spirit as if they were designed to trap him (cf. "St. Pius V Catechism", II, 5, 19; St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa theologiae", II-II, q. 14, a. 3).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.