October 17, 2020

The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

This is a passage that has bedeviled commentators and confused ordinary readers. What on earth does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? The language of Jesus here may even seem relatively strong for the Gospel of Luke. After all, many blasphemed against Jesus (for example, Luke 5:21, when Jesus forgives sins); we are never told that these sins are unforgivable. What is so different about sinning against the Holy Spirit? Do we not read in Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus is able “to save [all] those who approach God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them?” Acts 10:43 also tells us that “anyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

With this being true, what makes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit be unforgivable? The sin to which our Lord refers in this passage appears to be the sin of deliberately rejecting God’s truth with the heart, while that truth is clearly known with the head. It is a deliberate rejection of grace. It is the very sin into which many of the Scribes and Pharisees appear to have fallen when, despite seeing the works of Jesus, they refused to acknowledge the action of the Holy Spirit in his life. It is a sin that is commonly accompanied by utter hardness and insensibility of heart, a deliberate blindness that one willingly embraces. Consequently, one whose sins will not be forgiven is precisely one who never seeks to have them forgiven.

When our celebrations of Eucharist inflame us with the power of Jesus’ love for us, we will never commit this unforgivable sin, where we actually close ourselves off from the power of God in our lives.

Let Us Pray:

O loving God, let me always be open to the power of your love in my life. Never let me close my heart to the action of your Holy Spirit in my world.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015.