Friends, in our Gospel for today, drawn from St. John’s account, Jesus shows his disciples the wounds of his crucifixion, and then he offers them shalom (peace). It is the juxtaposition of the wounds and the shalom that carries power. The wounds alone would leave us afraid, convinced of our sin but not of a way out. The shalom alone would leave us with cheap grace, a too easy way out.
And this is precisely why, immediately after uttering that word and showing those wounds, Jesus sends the disciples on a mission of forgiveness: “Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.’”
The Church receives its essential mission and identity as the bearer of the divine forgiveness. We have been entrusted with speaking the shalom of Jesus to a fallen and hopeless world. But it’s not cheap grace that we share. We participate in Jesus’ mission of showing his wounds as well. The Church refuses to explain sin away or make excuses for it or call it by another name. But when those wounds are revealed, it offers peace.