How many of you would draw the scene from our Gospel showing the Risen Lord coming to the Apostles hidden behind the bolted door on the Easter Sunday? The scene doesn’t seem to excite our imagination, does it? So what did Jesus do then? ‘He breathed on the Apostles and said: Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain they are retained.’ We associate these words with the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and rightly so but they are not limited to the absolution we receive when we confess our sins to a priest. As baptized followers of Christ we have been graced with the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry of the Crucified Jesus. There, on the cross, Jesus, while thinking of those who had hurt him, said: ‘Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.’ We as Christians are missionaries of forgiveness. We are sent to the most difficult mission land: our own heart which is inclined to anger, hatred and revenge when we are treated badly or when we think that we are treated badly by others, by our life or even by God. In this mission land we need the Holy Spirit.
There is a prayer to the Holy Spirit: ‘Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.’ Keeping this prayer in mind let me remind you of another descending of the Holy Spirit. It happened at the very beginning of the Bible. When ‘God formed man out of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.’ However the story of creation didn’t stop there. Today’s Gospel, which resembles so much that creation action from Genesis, shows us how the Risen Lord continued creating people into living being, into people who live the life of God, who in the name of Jesus, are ready to let anger, hatred and revenge go.
If you still struggle to forgive someone, or some people, who have hurt you, if you still struggle to forgive your own life or even if you blame God for some things which have happened to you, go back to the Acts of the Apostles, place yourself among the disciples as they receive the Holy Spirit and let it take you out of your lack of forgiveness and into the mission of mercy.
To finish this homily I would like to show you another scene of the descending of the Holy Spirit. We need to go back 52 days. It was Good Friday. Jesus said ‘It is accomplished; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.’ St John while writing the Gospel used the expression that Jesus passed on his spirit. Who did receive the Spirit then? It was the small gathering of people who followed Jesus all the way to the cross. They were the beginning of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. When the body of Christ stretched on the cross was lifeless his spirit was dwelling in the Church gathered around the cross. It was a very small Church but it was also a very much alive Church. It was the Church alive with the Holy Spirit.
Father send us the Spirit.
Son breathe on us.
Come Holy Spirit today.