I wonder how you would define “blasphemy?” I had what I thought was a pretty good understanding, and then I read today’s gospel reading which gave me a much clearer definition.
Most of us might define blasphemy as the taking of the Lord’s name in vain. We know that we must not do this, and we accept the third of the ten commandments which makes this clear: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
Now read the opening of today’s gospel and notice Jesus’ definition of blasphemy:
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”
According to Jesus, we blaspheme when try to be God ourselves. We blaspheme when we replace God with ourselves. This was the temptation for Adam and Eve in Eden. The serpent deceived them saying “For God knows that when you eat from the tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (Gen 3)
Of course we know better than to call ourselves God, but we often act as if everything depends on us when in reality everything depends on our co-operation with God. When we live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is God-with-us we can relax. Thanks be to God we humans don’t have to be God!
You might remember the bedtime prayer of Pope John XXIII who must have carried his fair share of worries for the church and world, and the expectations of many people who thought of him as a God. At the end of a long day full of worries he would pray: “Well Lord, it’s your church, I’m off to bed!”
A few years ago at the annual Rimini meeting in Italy the most popular t-shirt on sale carried the caption:
“There is a God
but it’s not you