Jn 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 and said, “Peace be with you.”After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
We have never been left alone
It seems today that we have many reasons to be fearful and anxious: signs of instability and unrest throughout the world; acts of violence stemming from intolerance and hatred; the increased degradation of the environment.
The natural response to fear is to withdraw to safety, much like the disciples do when they lock themselves within the upper room in today’s Gospel reading. Sometimes when we feel helpless and without control, we think that the only possible solution is self-preservation, and the end result is isolation and even greater fear.
Yet nothing can keep out divine love. The risen Jesus appears in the midst of the frightened disciples, and in place of fear he offers them his Spirit, and from that Spirit comes peace and joy.
This is what we celebrate today on Pentecost—that from the beginning Christ has never left the disciples alone in darkness and despair, and that up until the present day it is his Spirit that strengthens, sustains, and guides us as his Church. Whatever challenges we must confront, he is always in our midst. We may still have reasons to be fearful, but we know that we are not alone.
It is the gift of God’s Spirit that sends us out from our locked rooms to be the resurrected Body of Christ in the world, offering God’s peace to those in desperate need of it.
Come, Holy Spirit! Fill our hearts and cast out all fear with the confidence that we are infinitely loved by the God who is always in our midst, even in our darkest moments. Give us the courage to love and to forgive, and in so doing may we help to heal the world of the loneliness, hatred, and division that keep us isolated from one another.
—Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ
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