Friday, June 6, 2014

Gospel text for Sunday 8 June 2014

John 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.”
Reflection        And Jesus came and stood among them, stands among all of us who are locked in the upper room, locked in our fear, suffering or self-loathing and says, “Peace be with you.”

Peace be with us?  What is that about? How can we be peaceful? This situation is dreadful. The world outside hates us – persecutes us – it’s exploding in violence and every dis-ease. And inside, we feel awful, guilty and broken-hearted.  We don’t follow You Jesus. We follow our selves.

And Jesus breathed on them (Huuuhhhhhh ) ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ 

Ohhh – what’s happening?  You are not going to condemn us? Rebuke us and cast us out? What is this strange calm, friendship we feel? How can there be ease in the midst of all our guilt and fear and tears? How can there be peace in the midst of all the hatred and violence in the world?

 And Jesus breathed on them (Huuuhhhhhh ) ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

For three years Jesus ate with the disciples, talked with the disciples, walked with the disciples and when they arrived at locked doors, he knocked. But on the evening of the first day of the week, Jesus did not knock. He did not enter as the others had, through the doorway.

Jesus arrived as a spiritual presence rising within the hearts of the disciples, as close as their breath. And how did they know Jesus’ presence you ask? By the peace they experienced in spite of the fact that they had locked themselves into a room for fear of being persecuted. They knew Jesus’ presence by the peace they experienced in spite of the regret and guilt and pain in their broken hearts. 

I wonder if when Mary Magdalene saw how upset the disciples were, I wonder if she reminded them of the promise Jesus made while he was still with them? “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14.26-27)

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