“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.’” (JN 20: 22-23)
Some commentaries on this passage say that this action recalls Gn 2:7, where God breathed on the first man and gave him life; just as Adam’s life came from God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus. Our Lord shared with them one of their most important missions—the sacrament of reconciliation. Sin is turning away from God and choosing our own way; reconciliation is following Him, imitating Him and being like Him. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Love, when He is present, everything goes in the right direction; everyone is moved to be closer to God.
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”
“Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.’ When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided.” (ACTS 23: 6-7)
Our Lord is always our defender, but this doesn’t mean that He will appear personally whenever we need Him; sometimes He helps with His gift of wisdom or a brilliant strategy given by affiliation. Paul found the way in which he could survive still saying the truth and being the apostle of the most important truth of our faith. Paul found confidence in the same truth which is a basis for all our beliefs—Our Lord died for us and won our resurrection after death: “for our hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
“May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges.” (ACTS 25: 19-20)
Paul’s trial was a good opportunity for evangelization, but Paul wanted to use the occasion to appeal to a wider audience and to go to the capital of his world, so he “appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” And there is only one reason for Paul’s request: “Jesus who had died” is alive. This is the central truth of our faith. And Paul knows how important it is to proclaim this truth everywhere.
“The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all I told you.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them” (JN 17, 7-9)
We are protected by Our Lord’s prayer. He prays for us to God, the Father; He talks about us to Him. At the same moment, Our Lord shares with us the words the Father gave to Him; the words about His love for us, redemption and our relationship with Him. We are loved by the Father, and this love is given to us every day with Our Lord’s love, and the words received from Him and given to us are always about this love.
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (JN 16: 33)
Trouble and the world go together. The world, which was created by God, now is dominated by governments,which at the very least ignore their Creator. But the last word belongs to God, Who not only created but also conquered the world, and we know that in the end there will be a new world and a new heaven. This is the reason we should always be focused on Our Lord and “might have peace in Him.” The world never gives peace—only sometimes pleasure.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the God.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” (MK 16: 20)
The previous sentence in today’s Gospel says: “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” And immediately after it says: “while the Lord worked with them.” It is not a paradox but God’s love. He never abandons us. He is always with us because we are sent to proclaim His word. And He “confirms the word through accompanying signs.”
“Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“’Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.’ He settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God among them.” (ACTS 18: 9-11)
Our Lord needs us to proclaim the Good News in our houses and workplaces and in our society. If we are afraid of this, it is because we know how unworthy we are to be God´s messengers, and we think that this will reduce the power of God’s word. But His word is stronger than our weaknesses and our limits, and the power does not come from us but from God himself: “I am with you.” And when we start, many can join us–“for I have many people in the city.”
“Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (Jn 16: 7)
Better, because “the Advocate will come to us”—we are never abandoned, never forgotten and never left to our own, always protected, always assisted and always loved beyond imagination. We have to believe, especially when we are tempted to feel that we are alone, “it is better for you that I go… But if I go, I will send him to you.”
“I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. ‘I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.’” (JN 15: 9-11)
The Liturgy of the Word is never afraid to proclaim the same message over and over again: “remain in my love.” Our Lord shares with us His love for His Father and His Father’s love for Him and for us; He shares not only the Father’s commandments to “remain in his love” but also His joy that our joy “might be complete.”
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)