Pondering the Word

Pentecost: Jn 20:19-23

05-31-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

This week Jesus breathes on the disciples. This is a sign or even sacramental action that signifies the impartation of the Holy Spirit. This is John’s version of Pentecost. The Gospel writers are often interested in displaying the mysteries of the life of Jesus I.e. his birth, baptism, Epiphany etc.. Unlike the other Gospel writers John puts the mysteries of the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost on the same day. Remember that in the morning Jesus told Mary Magdalen not to touch him because he had not ascended to the Father yet but now Jesus invites the disciples to touch him later that evening which implies he has ascended already. Why does John do this? John the theologian and the last Gospel traditionally symbolized by the far seeing Eagle-like creature in Revelation wants to connect the gift of the Spirit to the Church on Pentecost to the Resurrection. This means that our receiving the the Spirit is also a receiving the the resurrected life of Jesus. The mysteries are not separate and all received when we have a personal encounter with Jesus by faith.

Jesus breathing on the Apostles and saying “receive the Spirit” reminds us of Gen. 2:7 when God breathed into the face of Adam and made him a living soul. This means two things. First, that when we receive the Holy Spirit we become a new creation made in the image of Christ himself just as Adam was created in image of God. The breath is interesting because it comes from the depths of Jesus. This means that we receive the inner life of Jesus. The fact that we have the inner life of Jesus on the inside of us also means that we live like Jesus on the outside. So just as the Father sent Jesus now we are sent to the world to share the good news of the resurrection with others. We boldly proclaim that Jesus is alive and those who believe in him can receive his breath, Spirit and life. We receive the spirit that Jesus gave up for us on the cross.

How do we receive the Holy Spirit? In the Catholic Church we believe that we are baptized in the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation. Yet for many of us we were little babies when we were baptized and so we don’t really remember experiencing the Holy Spirit. Most of the spiritual life of penance and prayer which we are called to is geared toward acquiring a tangible experience of the Holy Spirit in our adult lives. This often happens for people on retreats like Life in the Spirit, Crusillo or at charismatic prayer meetings. People come back totally different and with a living faith, peace and joy from these retreats and are ready to be sent by the Father to evangelize. We are called to share our new found encounter with the Holy Spirit with others. It is amazing to see this miracle in the heart of a person. One of the greatest joys in the life of a believer is witnessing someone be surprised by an encounter with a tangible encounter with the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit!!!