31 Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come.
(Matt 12, RHE)
Jesus offers these words in the presence of the Pharisees, who had just credited Satan for Christ's power to exorcise demons.
Jesus notes that blasphemy means to declare that God is something God is not. In this case, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who are claiming that the authentic work of the Holy Spirit is itself demonic.
The Pharisees' practice of a works-based righteousness, in effect, asserts that they do not need God or his forgiveness—for they have already won their righteousness, through adherence to the Law. For them, the works of the Holy Spirit and the works of Satan are indeed indistinguishable (as well as negligible)—and this is exactly why Jesus admonishes them:
36 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned. (Matt 12, RHE)
Jesus is not saying that we can utter some word or commit some sin that God does not forgive.
God's forgiveness is already a reality, as evidenced by Jesus' healing of the blind-and-dumb man with the demon (cf. Matt 12, RHE). However, some of us (like the Pharisees) do not believe in His forgiveness—and disbelieve to the point of attributing it to a demonically untrustworthy source.
Simply put, then, if we so regard the Grace of God, how can he forgive us, who deny that forgiveness as necessary or efficacious in the first place?
Like a wrapped gift under a Christmas tree, God's forgiveness is a reality, waiting to be received and enjoyed. Would any of us in our right minds leave unopened a present with our name on it?
The holiday season takes a toll, especially on those of us reliving old griefs, hurts, and losses. Amid the buying and selling frenzy, none of us are in our right minds. Little wonder, then, when we see Who offers this gift of forgiveness, we shrink back.
We know all too well that Christ heals our blindness and dumbness—and we shrink back from the challenges and self-sacrifice entailed by our new sight and loosed tongues. Those of us who do dare to break the ribbon on the box hardly do so with the fervor to which He calls us:
10 Now will I rise up, says the Lord: now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself. 11 You shall conceive heat, you shall bring forth stubble: your breath as fire shall devour you. 12 And the people shall be as ashes after a fire, as a bundle of thorns they shall be burnt with fire. 13 Hear, you that are far off, what I have done, and you that are near know my strength. 14 The sinners in Sion are afraid, trembling has seized upon the hypocrites. Which of you can dwell with devouring fire? Which of you shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isa 33, DRE)Which of us will live with the unquenchable flame, the burning desire for our God and Savior? C. S. Lewis once called this fire, "joy," the desire that is better to burn with than to have anything else in the whole world.
Isaiah tells us who will dwell with such devouring fire:
15 He that walks in justices, and speaks truth, that casts away avarice by oppression, and shakes his hands from all bribes, that stops his ears lest he hear blood, and shuts his eyes that he may see no evil. 16 He shall dwell on high, the fortifications of rocks shall be his highness: bread is given him, his waters are sure. 17 His eyes shall see the king in his beauty, they shall see the land far off. (Isa 33, DRE)Advent and Christmas tell us how we will do so:
10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: 11 For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. (Lk 2, RHE)Forgiveness may be swaddled in a cavern stable in the hills of backwater Bethlehem. Herod's men may be swarming the city, stalking the Christ Child, Who will be exiled in Egypt for seven years and remain hidden for another 23 years in even more backwater Nazareth.
But Jesus the Christ will heal and preach and teach and give us His very Body and Blood on the Cross. When we receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, every day is Christmas, Good Friday, and Resurrection Day. The gift is before us—let us dare to receive the Christ, today and every day.