it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the
house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came
and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he
showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw
the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent
me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven
them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
today’s Mass we hear two accounts of the sending of the Holy Spirit, one from
the reading of the Acts of Apostles (2:1-11), and the other from today’s Gospel
(John 20:19–23). However, our focus is
on the Gospel reading. This will bring
us to the point that God’s sending of his Holy Spirit into us can happen in
extraordinary ways as well as, in most cases, in ordinary ways. It is always not a dramatic event as one may
opening scene of today’s Gospel is the evening of the first day of the
week. According to the Jewish tradition,
it is the evening of Saturday, the end of Sabbath. But
the disciples, we are told, were afraid.
They were afraid of the Jews.
Their fear was so great that they locked the doors of the house where
they met. Their behavior is typical
human. Psychologically, they felt safe
behind the locked doors. They forgot Jesus’
promise of resurrection after his Passion and death. It was a means cutting off themselves from
the outside. The locked doors might stop the Jews to come
into the house, but they could not stop Jesus to come to them. It was like Jesus walking on the water to
reach his disciples on board boat being toasted up and down by sea storms.
we shut ourselves out from others, including Jesus, in times of our
troubles? Today’s Gospel reminds us that even we shut
ourselves out from others and Jesus, he will come to us and be with us. Look back to our experiences, can we find a
pattern how Jesus enters into our life?
entered into the house, Jesus offered peace to his disciples and showed his
hands and side to the disciples. Note
that it was only after offering the peace that the disciples rejoiced. In other words, without the peace, the
disciples could not rejoice at seeing Jesus’ hands and side. Can I also rejoice to see Jesus’ hands and
side when he shows them to me? Now, I
listen to Jesus speak to me: “Peace be with you.” I bring before him those
aspects of my life most in need of peace and hear him say again, “Peace be with
you.” Jesus speaks of peace but shows his hands and his feet. Jesus reminds me
that there is a cost to being a presence of peace in the world.
showing his hands and side, Jesus said again: “Peace be with you,” and added: “As
the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Here,
Jesus reminded the disciples the double meanings of his sending. Before his Passion, Jesus kept telling his
disciples that he was sent by the Father and that those who received him also
received the One who sent him. Now,
risen Jesus told them again that as the Father sent him, Jesus sent them. Can I know how am sent by Jesus from my own experience?
he had said this, he breathed on them and said to disciples, “Receive the Holy
Spirit.” In the Book of Genesis, God
breathes on human beings to bring them life. Now Jesus breathes his Spirit into
his disciples to give them new life. They will have power over sin, which
otherwise deadens the human heart. Can I
welcome the Holy Spirit into my small heart so that today will be ‘the first
day of the week’ for me, which means the first day of my renewed creation?
last verse of today’s Gospel: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are
forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” reminds us the
Sacrament of Reconciliation. For our
part, we should forgive others, including our own selves, as God forgives
us. Without such forgiveness, we can
enjoy no real peace. Amen.