Pentecost: Jn 20:19-23

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/31/2020  |  

This week Jesus breathes on the disciples. This is a sign or even sacramentalaction that signifies the impartation of the Holy Spirit. This is John’s version ofPentecost. The Gospel writers are often interested in displaying the mysteries of thelife of Jesus I.e. his birth, baptism, Epiphany etc.. Unlike the other Gospel writers Johnputs 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 hehad not ascended to the Father yet but now Jesus invites the disciples to touch himlater 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 seeingEagle-like creature in Revelation wants to connect the gift of the Spirit to the Church onPentecost to the Resurrection. This means that our receiving the the Spirit is also areceiving the the resurrected life of Jesus. The mysteries are not separate and allreceived when we have a personal encounter with Jesus by faith.

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

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