Gospel Reflection for May 19, 2024 – Pentecost

Sunday Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13; John 20.19-23

When 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, “Peace be with you.”  After 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.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “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” (John 20.19-23).

On the evening of the first Easter, the risen Jesus breathes his spirit upon the disciples assembled in a locked room. In this Easter scene the disciples receive Jesus’ spirit rather than fire.  Breathing is Jesus’ sign of the Spirit of God’s power in us—invisible but life-essential air, moving into our lungs, heart, and blood, animating every cell of our bodies, coextensive with being alive. The Holy Spirit is a transforming gift in us.

The Pentecost scriptures envision a transformation of the world in Christ by a community whose members are always in need of transformation themselves. The Spirit provides the gifts for renewing the face of the earth.

John’s gospel is unique in not designating the twelve as the receivers of the peace and power of the Spirit. In Sunday’s gospel, the whole community of believers receives peace and the power to forgive.  Our relationships bind families and communities together. How we love and forgive one another matters in concrete, lasting ways.

The Spirit is always with us, in our failures and pain as surely as in our joys and achievements. The Spirit stirs in regrets as surely as in moments of communion or shared insights.  If the community graciously shares the peace and forgiveness Jesus bestows on them, then the Spirit lives in their midst. It is not the twelve who have a priority on the commission to forgive. Forgiveness, like love and peace, is the community’s to share, for we are the Body of Christ. The commission is ours.

  • How has forgiving or being forgiven renewed you, your family, parish community, or workplace?
  • What is a peacemaking action you no longer want to put off?
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