Sunday Readings: Acts 2.1-11 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13 John 20.19-23
When it was evening on 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, stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you” . . . He showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Then Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained them (John 20.19-23).
Jesus lets his friends see the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. This intimate act demonstrates for every hearer of the story that the risen Jesus is the crucified Jesus.
In this Easter appearance Jesus sends his friends out as the Father sent him. He commissions them and us to continue his mission. For this purpose, Jesus breathes his animating Spirit upon them just as the Creator breathed life into the first humans in Genesis 2.24.
The invisible, enlivening breath points to the mystery of divine energy in us. The Spirit is the giver of our lives. The Spirit lives in, with, and among us in sorrows and joys, in threats and wonders, tragedies and reunions, breakups and breakthroughs, in mourning and in yearning, in rage and delight. People too often attribute their successes to God and their failures to themselves.
The Spirit does not work apart from our human effort. The Spirit permeates our lives, our anguish as well as our joy, all that we struggle with as well as all that comes easy.
When have you been aware of the Spirit’s presence in anguish? In joy? What nudgings of the Spirit recur in you? How do you respond?