Thursday, September 20, 2018
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 Temple authorities, 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.” – John 20:19-23
In the Gospel of John, the Spirit is as breath, the Hebrew evidence of life being present in a mortal soul. There was a time, not that long ago, when people would check to see if someone were still alive though yet they appeared motionless would place a mirror close to one’s mouth and nose to see if a faint breath would fog the mirror. From ancient times we have referred to the notion of one’s last breath and have spoken of a baby drawing its first breath. Yes, breath is a reference to the presence of life.
Only John makes reference to this baptism by way of breath. “He breathed upon the disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ” It is as if John wanted us to understand by way of the baptism by breath we begin our life with the Life of Christ living within us. We begin our ministry of bringing the Life of Christ into the world. We begin our lives as human souls Divinely graced.
John also has Christ emphasizing by way of proximity that the first order of the day for those baptized by the Breath is the work of forgiveness. We ourselves enter into the Divine Initiative of Grace. We have no choice but to forgive for we have within us the ongoing Life’s Breath of Christ. We now have the calling to forgive, the commandment to forgive, but possibly in the highest order, now the impulse and desire to forgive.
It is the first mission of the Christian and the Christian community to forgive, to allow the grace and mercy to flow into through our human agency.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz