Sunday, May. 19,
“He breathed on
The gospel for
this Pentecost Sunday brings us back to the first Easter Sunday. The disciples
were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. I wonder what was going on inside
their heads! It is difficult for us to grasp the momentum of their lives from
the moment they encountered Jesus for the first time. Were they carried along on
one big wave of new experience and excitement? Or were there highs and lows in
their journey with Jesus? We can only guess. I suspect that despite highs and
lows there was always the expectation that something truly momentous was
pending. They were on a journey to somewhere. It was always ahead of them. It
was going to be around the next corner. They were buoyed on by the hope of a
cataclysmic event. How were they to know that the cataclysmic event was to be a
They must have learned a great deal during all the time they were with Jesus.
But they were still unprepared for Good Friday. It says something for their
state of minds that they were still together and they were still in Jerusalem.
They were afraid, and they were behind locked doors, but something lingered in
their minds and hearts. The remnants of hope were still there. They had not
scattered and fled.
Jesus walked into their locked room. He came and stood in their midst. And he
said to them “Peace be with you.” When a great tragedy occurs we are inclined to
try to block it out. Maybe it never happened! But Jesus dispelled any notion of
that. He showed them his hands and his side. Oh yes! He had indeed been
crucified and put to death. It really did happen! His relationship with them
from now on must include Good Friday. But here he was now standing in their
midst, Good Friday and all, wishing them ‘Peace!’ John’s Gospel understates
their reaction, “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Can you imagine
their hearts and emotions beginning to light up with hope, and yes, with joy?
And just in case there should be any mistake, Jesus says again, “Peace be with
From the moment they met Jesus, he had transformed their lives. They wanted to
be with him, near him, whenever he was preaching and teaching and healing. They
knew that while they were in his presence they were in the presence of the Holy
One of God. The Spirit of God was in him. Now here he was again, with his
wounds. While they were still trying to deal with what had transpired with the
life and death of Jesus, he came into their locked room and into the confusion
of their minds, and said “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to them, As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And he breathed
on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And the Spirit of Jesus filled
their being. The Spirit, the animating force and presence of the Father to the
Son, was now the Spirit of the followers of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was now
their life principle.
The Feast of Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit on
the early Church. Much more, it is the celebration of the presence of the Holy
Spirit in the present Church, the continual presence and action of Jesus among
us. It is a celebration that the presence of Jesus through his Spirit enables us
to rise to a new and higher way of living.
We can get downhearted at times because we fail to see the action of God in our
lives and in our world. We look at the world and we see the bombings, and the
hunger, and the exploitation of others that is indeed rampant in the world. But
we can also see the peacemakers, and the care workers, and the thousands and
millions who spend themselves selflessly on their children, on their families,
on their communities, and on total strangers. If we are sensitive to the Spirit,
we see God at work in so many ways through the hands and words and feet of
people of good will throughout the world and throughout the centuries. If we are
sensitive to the Spirit, we experience within ourselves that call of the Spirit
to proclaim the Good News and make God’s compassion and love and care live in
the world around us.
Today, we rejoice in that gift of the Holy Spirit.
Rev. Kevin P. Casey, SJ
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Date This Page Was Last Edited:
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:56 AM