What a chilling caution by Jesus towards the accusing Scribes and listeners then, and equally unmitigated for us now. In Mark’s narrative, the scene unfolds immediately after Jesus appointed the twelve. The Scribes of Jerusalem appear and lay serious charges against Jesus, who was rapidly gaining attention. To put this in perspective, the Jerusalem Scribes were experts in the Mosaic Law; their authority was of greater weight in comparison to the Galilean Pharisees. Without delay the Scribes brought two charges against Him: “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” (Mk 3:22)
So why is this type of blasphemy so grievous when we know that God’s love is abundant? Let us turn to the Magisterial teachings to concretize this verse. “There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins, and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.” CCC 1864. Saint Pope John Paul II in his encyclical on the Holy Spirit states, it “does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross.” Hence the evangelion reverberates for us to repent and believe.
To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to harden one’s heart so that it becomes tightly shut wherein the grace of God cannot enter. It is one’s willful defiance to recognize the saving power of God offered through Jesus and the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. God’s love is not coercive. One of His greatest gifts, but equally perilous, is freewill. Love would not be love if we were not free to choose. Freewill is a natural consequence of God’s love, and so is hell, precisely because we can use our arbitrary freedom to choose other than God. Let us keep in mind that hell is not a product of God’s anger or punishment, but it is corollary to man’s impenitence and persistent rejection of God.
I should like to close with St. Augustine’s book, City of God. Two cities exist, the city of man and the city of God. Which city do you belong to? You choose. In the end, God will say, “thy will be done.”