(John 20: 19-23) I’ve always thought how amazing it would have been to have lived in Jesus’ day – to see Him in the flesh, to hear Him preach the Gospel, and to witness first-hand the miracles He performed. While that certainly would have been an incredible blessing, the number of people that He actually came into contact with in His short life, and even shorter ministry, was quite small. Taking on a human body like ours with all its limitations, Jesus could only live for a span of years and meet people in a limited geographical area. Yet, He really didn’t leave us when “His hour had come to depart from this world” (Jn 16:5). He simply comes in a different way that is not limited by time or space. That is what’s so cool about the Holy Spirit! He can be with us in all times and in all place for all generations…and He promises that He will. In that sense, we are so abundantly blessed – maybe even more so than many who came before us.
In this week’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say two times, “Peace be with you.” The first time, it’s meant as a greeting as He miraculously comes to His disciples despite the doors being locked. Yet the second time is even more significant – His words are an invitation to receive His Holy Spirit and thus join in His mission to spread the message of His Father. In spite of all they had seen and heard, the disciples were nevertheless sad and fearful after Jesus’ death; they needed the power of the Holy Spirit to embolden them to carry on this mission. Jesus came to them to specifically prepare them for this work. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, He also gave them the power and authority to “bind and loose” – to forgive sins in His name – and commissioned them to bring His message of forgiveness and salvation to the world.
What does all this mean for us? First, that Jesus offers us His peace as well – not in the way the world gives, as merely an absence of conflict, but the peace that comes from living in truth. Yes, the Holy Spirit is the dove of peace that consoles, but it’s also the consuming fire that inspires us and gives us the courage to live our faith. We receive an outpouring of this Spirit in the sacraments, beginning with Baptism, and are asked to join in the mission of the Church, whose birth we celebrate today. We all have a share in this blessing and subsequent call to bring truth and peace to the world. Moreover, we can trust in the authority given to the apostles, an authority that is now passed down to their successors – the bishops of our Church today – to guide us in this endeavour. If we let the Holy Spirit have free reign in our lives, He will help us to all speak the same language – one of God’s indescribable love.
– Kelley Holy