In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
Commentary Fr Murtagh
The sending of the Spirit into the world and on the early church sees another of the promises of Christ fulfilled. Christ has not abandoned us. The spirit of Christ is as alive and working as effectively as always. It was the function of the spirit at creation to bring order out of chaos, to bring beauty into creation, to give life and light and direction to the world. This is still what we expect from the spirit.
The spirit is the presence of the absent Christ. What is it that motivates us to come together to remember these things and to worship God on a wet Sunday morning? What directs us to do the right and good thing when all around us we are called to do otherwise? Why do so many live lives of integrity, of peace, of self- sacrifice when it would be so much easier to follow and satisfy our instincts and desires? Surely this is the spirit of Christ at work within the individual and at work within the community strengthening, directing, and blessing us with wisdom and insight. As each seed has within it the potential to be something unique and beautiful in itself, so each person, planted firmly in faith and watered by the life-giving spirit, can develop into something beautiful at its own pace and in its own way.
Where the words and promises and the example of Christ live within you, then Christ lives within you, and you live in Christ. The love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father is wrapped around us all when the Spirit moves within us. When you find strength to persevere or hope in the face of suffering or adversity, when you live at peace with God, with others and with yourself despite the turmoil of relationships and of the world, then the spirit and the Easter gift of peace may be at work within you. When you forgive or accept forgiveness it is the Easter gift of the spirit of forgiveness which may be at work within you.
The spirit living within you makes your person and your body a holy place. We reverence and respect the shell which is our body because it is the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’. Above all the spirit is the promise, alive and active within our lives which will well up and overflow into eternal life at the end. The spirit of an individual is indestructible. The Spirit of God cannot be destroyed, cannot be subject even to death, so the Spirit is our promise and our hope of resurrection. We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.