Jesus on the Holy Spirit

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus tells his disciples that although those who speak against Him will be forgiven, “the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Why does Jesus speak so strongly against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, especially in contrast to speaking against Himself?

I think the answer is that to deny the Holy Spirit is to deny the presence of God in the world today, to deny that the world (in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins) is “charged with the grandeur of God.”

God became human in Jesus, an event that is foundationally important to us as Christians. But God didn’t just come and go, leaving us with only a fading memory of his presence. This is no like the visit years ago of some far-off relative, about whom we years later reminisce, “Hey remember that time Uncle John came to town.”

Instead, in one of the Last Supper discourses in the Gospel of John, Jesus promises: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth… [I]t remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

The Spirit of God reside in each of us and infuses all of life. All the world – all that exists – is suffused with the reality of God’s presence. That is the reality Jesus’ statement to his disciples urges us to embrace.

To deny the Holy Spirit, denies the promise Jesus made to us during his life here with us.