By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus address told pilgrims and tourists that envy and jealousy for someone else’s goodness and good works can lead to false accusations.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father explored two types of misunderstanding that Jesus had to face, which came from the learned scribes and from his own family members.
Scribes’ unforgivable sin
The Pope said the scribes of Jesus’ day were well instructed in the Sacred Scriptures, and their job was to explain them to people.
Jesus’ fame was beginning to spread, he said, so some scribes were sent to Galilee to discredit him. “These scribes arrive with a precise and terrible accusation: ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul and by the prince of demons he drives out demons.’ (Mk 3:22)
Pope Francis said they wanted to make people think Jesus got his healing powers from the Evil One and not from God. He called this a “sin against the Holy Spirit” because they denied and blasphemed “against the Love of God that is present and at work in Jesus.”
The only unforgivable sin – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – he said, “starts from a heart closed to the mercy of God, who acts in Jesus.”
Turning this biblical episode into a lesson for today, Pope Francis said, “sometimes a strong envy for a person's goodness and good works can lead to falsely accusing them.”
He called it a “deadly poison” and a “premeditated malice” that seeks to destroy the good reputation of another person. “May God keep us from this terrible temptation!”
Jesus’ new family
Pope Francis then turned to the “very different” misunderstanding of Jesus’ family members. His itinerant lifestyle “seemed crazy to them,” he said.
The Pope said Jesus had made himself so available to others that he hardly had time to eat. So, “his family decided to take him back to Nazareth.”
But because of their misunderstanding, said Pope Francis, Jesus is able to explain how he has formed a new family, not based on natural bonds.
“Jesus formed a new family… based on faith in Him and on His love that welcomes us and unites us to one another in the Holy Spirit. All those who accept Jesus’ word are children of God and brothers and sisters to one another,” the Pope said.
Greatest recognition for Mary
Finally, Pope Francis said Jesus’ response does not betray a lack of respect for his mother and family.
“Indeed, it is the greatest recognition for Mary, because she herself is the perfect disciple who obeyed God's will in everything,” he said.