Year A: Pentecost Sunday
Gospel: John 20: 19-23
St John sets the Coming of the Holy Spirit on the evening of the first Easter Sunday. This is not the dramatic Coming recorded in the Acts of the Apostles - nor does it lead to a sense of power and mission overwhelming the disciples.
Today’s Coming offers a prelude to that.
The Spirit which Jesus breathes on them is the Spirit of peace and of forgiveness.
The peace which Jesus is speaking about is not simply an absence of conflict or anxiety but a deeper peace - shalom.
This speaks more of a deeper sense of well-being - an unshakeable peace which is bit disturbed by whatever the world can throw at it. It is a peace which does not run away from the world - but remains at peace within it.
The disciples were not being called to remove themselves from the world - but were being sent into it - just as the Father had sent Jesus. They would face the same hostility - the same difficulties - some would even face a similar death to Jesus. In order to proclaim the Gospel effectively, they had urgent need of the peace which the world cannot give to sustain them through all that lay before them.
The Spirit is also a Spirit of forgiveness. The disciples knew their own guilt all too well. They had deserted Jesus - they had not understood Him - they had failed Him in a big way. The first people to forgive were themselves.
But the Spirit of forgiveness was not given just for them. This was part of the gift they were to take into the world. It may not seem as dramatic as the gift of tongues and miracles - but forms a vital part of the gift of healing.
Forgiveness is liberating - both for the person who is forgiven and for the one who has forgiven. Both are, in effect set free to get on with their lives.
In giving the Spirit of peace and forgiveness to His friends on the first Easter Sunday, Jesus is predisposing them for the more dramatic coming of the Spirit a short time later.. This time, they would be inspired with courage and words beyond anything they could ever have dreamt! Jesus, however, is a gentle Master - and trains His disciples well...starting with the breath of the Spirit, He prepares them for the Spirit who comes as a hurricane!
What does it mean for me?
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