Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pt. 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31
Last Thursday, Lk 24 showed us the hands and feet of Jesus, and we also saw Jesus eating the presence of the Apostles. Today we see some additional quality of the resurrected Jesus, he came and stood in their midst even when the doors were locked, and again he showed them his hands and also his side. We have a clearer picture of the risen Jesus. And his greeting was, “Peace be with you!” Jesus our Savior brings us peace, not confusion or turmoil.
Then he gives his apostles a mission: “As the Father sent me, so do I send you.” This statement tells us that Jesus was an apostle from the Father. The word to send in Greek is ‘apostellein’. He was sent by the Father to us, now he sends these men to the world; as he had authority from the Father, these men receive authority from him. What he received from the Father he now passes on to them.
Then he breathes on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit he gives to them with all his gifts and powers, and the greatest of these powers is to forgive sins: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.” The Catholic Church has always believed these words of Jesus. Jesus came for the forgiveness of sins, and he wants that this work of forgiveness should continue in his Church. Great is the Divine Mercy! While Matthew 16:19 said, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” here in Jn 20:23 Jesus clearly speaks of “sin”. Let us not stay away from this sacrament that forgives our sins, for only when cleansed from sin can we received Jesus in Holy Communion and enter heaven. The words of Jesus are loud and clear, when the priest forgives sins, it is Jesus who forgives, not just a mere man. The second part of this Gospel concerns Thomas the Doubter. Many of us are like Thomas. We receive the Sacraments, come to Mass and receive Holy Communion without total surrender of faith in the words of Jesus. We demand to see the nailmarks in his hands and put our finger into them and put our hand to his side. That is why for many Catholics, our worship in Church may be beautiful, but when we go out to the streets, into our homes, to our work place, to our social and business dealings, we are atheists. People do not see in us the God we worship and receive; we do not become what we receive. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion with full faith, he does not become us, rather we become Jesus because he is supposed to transform us into himself if we live our faith. Yes, we are many Thomases the Doubters because the risen Jesus has no room in our daily lives. At the Last Supper Jesus gave us himself as food in form of bread and wine and to his Church as our daily sacrificial offering to the Father; after the resurrection he gives the power to forgive sins to his ministers so that we can live as true sons and daughters of our heavenly Father; and yet we do not take advantage of his gifts, rather we abuse his gifts. Our country has not become truly Christian. We are supposed to be Catholic Christians, but we advocate RH Law, abortion, divorce, same sex marriage; there is still so much killings especially at election time, theft is rampant in government, illegal drugs are promoted by the police force itself. We have not become what we receive. The risen Jesus is walking among us. Though we walk away from Jerusalem, the risen Jesus like the Good Shepherd follows us and explains the Scriptures and the prophets to us. We need to recognize him in the breaking of the bread and hurry to return to Jerusalem and join the community of believers. The Lord is truly risen; we see the wounds in his hands, feet and side; we touch and receive him in the Holy Eucharist. Let us become what we receive. Let the risen Jesus become alive in our daily lives.