Gospel – John 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
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.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Look what blew into town! Though unconventional, this is certainly a valid way of describing the event of Pentecost. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the mysterious, dynamic power of God operative in the world today. And what is that power attempting to accomplish? Transformation. Transformation – not merely of the chrysalis into a butterfly, or an acorn into an oak, but transformation of vulnerable selfish people into courageous generous individuals. The Spirit of God is surely a Spirit of transformation. How else might we explain why “Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, Inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,” people from Honduras, Chile, and Mexico, immigrants from the Ukraine, the Congo, and Sierra Leone all come together to hear of the mighty acts of God. When the Spirit of God blew into town, all God’s people came along on its mighty currents.
This is also a Feast of Forgiveness. The gospel passage describes this. The sacrament of Reconciliation is not the only avenue of forgiveness. There is in the life of each of us ample opportunity for forgiveness. People disappoint us, and we disappoint them. They often sin against us, and we sin against them. Such rancor is too heavy to carry into the future when we have a universe to transform. True forgiveness lightens the load.
Today’s cosmologists tell us that we are part of an evolving universe. We don’t just live in it; we are a living breathing part of it. What happens to the universe happens to us; what happens to us happens to the universe. And that includes all of us. Today’s ecotheologians claim that the power that drives that evolving is the power of God, the Spirit of God. That Spirit is moving the entire universe to its transformation – and we are part of that movement to transformation. Just think of that for a moment. The integrity with which we live our lives, the care we show to those for whom we are responsible, the honesty with which we carry on business with others all serves to transform the universe. As we learned as children: ‘Every little bit counts.’ Grab hold of the Spirit!
Dianne Bergant, CSA
Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP Distinguished Professor Emerita of Old Testament Studies
Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever