DAILY MASS, GOSPEL AND COMMENTARY: “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT” (Jn 20:19–23).
Gospel of Pentecost Sunday
PENTECOST SUNDAY GOSPEL
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.”
from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. John (with permission)
19-20 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.
- Jesus appears to the Apostles on the evening of the day on which he rose.
- He presents himself in their midst without any need for the doors to be opened, by using the qualities of his glorified body; but in order to dispel any impression that he is only a spirit he shows them his hands and his side: there is no longer any doubt about its being Jesus himself, about his being truly risen from the dead.
- He greets them twice using the words of greeting customary among the Jews, with the same tenderness as he previously used put into this salutation. These friendly words dispel the fear and shame the Apostles must have been feeling at behaving so disloyally during his Passion: he has recreated the normal atmosphere of intimacy, and now he will endow them with transcendental powers.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
- Pope Leo XIII explained how Christ transferred his own mission to the Apostles:
- “What did he wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which he had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This he clearly resolved to do: this he actually did. ‘As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you’ (Jn 20:21). ‘As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’ (Jn 17:18). . . . When about to ascend into heaven he sends his Apostles in virtue of the same power by which he had been sent from the Father; and he charges them to spread abroad and propagate his teachings (cf. Mt 28:18), so that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those disobeying should perish (cf. Mk 16:16). . . . Hence he commands that the teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if it were his own: ‘He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me’ (Lk 10:16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as he is the ambassador of the Father” (Leo XIII, Satis cognitum).
- In this mission the bishops are the successors of the Apostles: “Christ sent the Apostles as he himself had been sent by the Father, and then through the Apostles made their successors, the bishops, sharers in his consecration and mission. The function of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfilment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ” (Vatican II, Presbyterorum ordirnis, 2).
22-23 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.”
- The Church has always understood — and has in fact defined — that Jesus Christ here conferred on the Apostles authority to forgive sins, a power which is exercised in the sacrament of Penance.
- “The Lord then especially instituted the sacrament of Penance when, after being risen from the dead, he breathed upon his disciples and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit….’. The consensus of all the Fathers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after Baptism” (Council of Trent, De Paenitentia, chap. 1).
- The sacrament of Penance is the most sublime expression of God’s love and mercy towards men, described so vividly in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11-32). The Lord always awaits us, with his arms wide open, waiting for us to repent — and then he will forgive us and restore us to the dignity of being his sons.
- The Popes have consistently recommended Christians to have regular recourse to this sacrament:
- “For a constant and speedy advancement in the path of virtue we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent confession, introduced by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for by this means we grow in a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted, spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased by the efficacy of the sacrament itself” (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC 1: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN AND IF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WORKING IN YOU?
Today, we celebrate the birthday of the Church. After 50 days of Easter, the events of the Paschal Mystery – the suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples – has taken place.
The third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is now with us for life after Jesus has left. Among the three, the Holy Spirit is not easy to picture. It is depicted as a dove during Jesus’ baptism. It was a powerful wind felt by the disciples in the room they were together in, holed up, fearful and uncertain of their future when Jesus died. It was the tongues of fire that appeared to them on that fateful day.
But like many things in this universe that is not visible to the naked eye, the Holy Spirit is profoundly, starkly real in our lives.
TOPIC 2: What do you need to do to achieve peace?
Jesus comes into the Upper Room and surprises the apostles who have withdrawn into this room, fearful of their lives after Jesus was crucified. His first words? “Peace be with you.” And then He repeats it, “Peace be with you.” And he tells them He will send them to continue His mission. But they will not be alone. And He breathes the Holy Spirit into them. And He tells them that whoever they forgive shall be forgiven.
Among many mission assignments that could be thought of, why did Jesus choose forgiveness as the first order of their mission? It is because peace can only be achieved through forgiveness. If at all, our mission is to be at peace with everyone – be they your spouse who betrayed you, an ageing father who abused you, a co-worker who unfairly judged you, a sibling who bullied you, a friend who has hurt you and now your friendship is wasting.
Forgiveness is what will bring about peace. Unforgiveness robs one of the peace that Jesus is asking us to spread to the world. Harold Sala has four guidelines for the way to peace.
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