This is a continuation of a short series of pastoral reflections looking at Matthew 12:30-7. This week, we’re on verse 31:
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
The first half of the verse seems rather straight-forward. God will forgive people any sin or blasphemy. Seems simple enough. Makes sense in light of a loving God. Ok, But then we’re hit with the second part. Wow! Wait a minute! There’s something he WON’T forgive??? How is THAT loving???
Well, before we react too strongly, we should ask just what this means. What does it mean to blaspheme the Spirit? Well, a most helpful patristic interpretation comes from St. Cyprian of Carthage (bishop from 248-58), who said it is a denial of the Christian faith. That is, it is a willful turning from God as present in His Son, Jesus the Christ. That is unforgivable in the sense that no real healthy relationship can be established so long as a person continues to deny Christ and what he has done for us.
So, let us not be overly troubled about some particular “thing” we might do, but whether we are baptized and chrismated (annointed) into the Body of Christ and given the gifts and seal of the Spirit. That must be our concern. Are we living out our baptism? Are we always leaning on our Lord? So long as we rely on him, we need not worry about this sin, and when we reach out and love and evangelize others, we need not worry about whether there is something terribly unforgivable within their lives. What matters is whether they will turn and love Christ, if they do not already.