Gospel John 20:19-23
As the Father sent me, so am I sending you: receive the Holy Spirit
In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
Introductory Prayer: Today, Lord, we celebrate the gift of your Holy Spirit to the Church, which you won for us through your patient suffering on the cross. I believe and trust in his power to make me a better apostle of your Kingdom, to bring fervor where I have grown tepid, to instill detachment where I have become too indulgent, and to perfect the innocence of my baptism, which leaves my soul more pure and worthy to serve and honor you each day.
Petition: Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your grace and enkindle in me the fire of your love.
1. The Doors Were Locked: What is it that makes a disciple of Christ stop cold in the path of conversion and commitment? Cloaked underneath our spiritual inertia and lack of zeal are not so much our personal defects or our lack of human virtue as blindness to the dynamic power of the Crucified and Risen Lord. We can leave our self-made prisons only by opening our hearts to a faith in Christ that is total: total trust (in spite of the confusion of the present and uncertainty of the future), total hope (by breaking away from having to see the ideal in ourselves before we will act), and total divine confidence (in setting aside the sins of others and our personal failures that keep us stuck in myopic visions of life). Christ comes through bolted doors again today to ask us to unlock them with an authentic experience of the Risen Lord in the power of the Spirit.
2. Peace Be With You: It is vital to examine our “peace” and see if it truly speaks of the peace of the Upper Room. Substitute “satisfaction” for the word “peace,” and see where our hearts have tried to find consolation this past week. Then substitute the word “fulfillment.” This is the peace that Christ brings through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some passing satisfactions are part of life, and we can be grateful for them. When we seek them for their own sake, however, we can easily drown out the life of the Spirit, who comes to bring us deep peace and fulfillment in life. Pentecost must convince us above all about prayer and the order of life that permit us to have constant contact with sources of grace and divine inspiration.
3. Receive the Holy Spirit: In the sacrament of penance, we are forgiven our sins through the action of the Holy Spirit, who makes the actions of Christ present through the priest. We believe that mercy founds hope and change in our soul. Why, then, do we not believe that this same grace from the Holy Spirit can make us heroic saints, victorious in trial, patient in difficult relationships and more effective as apostles? Christ assures us that his power will never leave us, so we have no reason to “slip into neutral” after a few bad incidents in our life. Rather, the Holy Spirit’s goal moves us from mercy to transformation into Christ, permitting us spiritually to carry and reveal his wounds to an unbelieving world.
Conversation with Christ: Oh, Jesus, I will trust more in the power of your Holy Spirit to change me than in my own efforts. I will depend on you in that face-to-face encounter I need to have with you every day. Let the sources of divine grace become my true food, and may I move away from feeding my soul on passing pleasures and vain ambitions.
Resolution: This week, I will write down daily all the lights and inspirations of the Holy Spirit I receive, and I will try to act on them with promptness, confidence and generosity.