As the Father has sent me, so I send you

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 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.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:19-23

In this gospel story of John’s we learn something important about the nature of God. God sends, or commissions, others. Some people have an idea of a God who is so complete and perfect and powerful in Himself that He has no need to be involved with others. Some think of Him as this creator who made the world and everything in it, and then sat back and removed Himself from the activities or natural processes of creation. But Jesus reveals that God is a Father, a personal God, who reaches out to creation.

St Paul tells us, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son…to redeem those who were under the law,” (Gal 4:4-6) Early in John’s gospel, we read that God sent his Son that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.(John 3:16)

At the Last Supper we learn that not only was Jesus sent by the Father, but now, He in turn is sending His Apostles. The word “apostle,” comes from the Greek words for “sending forth” and “messenger.” Jesus prays to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”(Jn 17:18) And He knows that just as He was rejected by the world, so will they be. But still He sends them with the mission that He, Himself had received: That God might be known and believed in.

This gospel passage takes place the first evening of the resurrection day. Jesus appears to His apostles and He says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” But first two times He says, “Peace be with you.” This is at the same time, an offer of peace, and a command. They must not fear or worry. And to strengthen them, and to give them the power that they need, “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Father not only sent His only Son that all might have life in Him. The Son, Jesus Christ, established a Church, founded on the Apostles to carry on that mission.

Reflect

At the very moment when Jesus commissions the apostles to carry on His work and to bring others to knowledge of God, He gives them the special power to forgive sins. Being able to forgive sins is something that only God can do, yet here, Jesus clearly shares this power with His apostles. As the first priests of the Church they will guard this power and hand it on through the Church in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Activity

This is a cool Sacrament of Reconciliation crossword puzzle:

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/36885504/reconciliation-crossword-puzzle-catholic-mom

He saw and believed

Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. so she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved and said to them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came bout with the other disciple, …they both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came…and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. The the other disciple who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-10

“He saw and believed.” In this Gospel account, John sees the empty tomb and the discarded burial cloths, and believes.

Even before this takes place, John loved Jesus. He respected Him. He left his father and their family business of fishing to follow Him. And unlike the other disciples, he did not abandon Jesus as Jesus suffered on the cross. But in this story, John tells his readers that it is the empty tomb, the evidence that Jesus had arisen from the dead, that caused John to believe. Furthermore, John admits that neither he, nor the older Peter, even understood the Scripture until the Resurrection.

What does this mean? It means that these two disciples, so close to Our Lord, did not believe Jesus or understand all that the Scripture had foretold about Him.

Jesus had revealed to them who He was and that the Jewish Scripture were fulfilled in Him. Presumably Peter and John accepted this, because they continued to follow Him. Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, “the Son of the living God.”(Matt 16:16) So when John says that it was only on seeing the empty tomb that they came to understand and believe, what is he talking about?

What they had not believed and understood was that Jesus came to overturn the reign of sin and death. God is Lord of life and He never intended suffering or death. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they brought pain, suffering, and death into creation. The Son of God became man liberate man and all of creation from the power of sin and death and God’s Kingdom of life and love might flourish. The empty tomb was the evidence that He was victorious.

For Reflection

Do you believe that Jesus has power over sin and death? If so, ask for his help with any sin that you struggle with.

Activity

For a beautiful printable coloring page go to http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/empty-tomb

For a fun paper mache tomb activity go to https://birmingham.citymomsblog.com/holidays-and-seasons/easter-lessons-mom/

Hosanna to the Son of David

And when they drew near to Jerusalem…Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble , and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed the…And most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him, and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who come in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!

Matt 21:1-11

All that Jesus has said and done on his path to Jerusalem has been designed to alert the Israelites that He is the Messiah, the new king sent by God to deliver God’s People.

Remember that the Israelites are God’s chosen people. A people whom God had formed, saved from slavery, spoken to, given the law to and provided for. They had once been a mighty kingdom. But for almost 1000 years, they were divided, overcome by more powerful kingdoms, driven into exile and ruled by foreigners. Still, many held on to the hope that God would never abandon them. They believed that He would send a Messiah who would deliver them.

Jerusalem had been the epicenter of the Israelite kingdom. The place of true worship and the city of its kings. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is an emphatic signal for the Jewish people that Jesus is the long awaited Hope of Israel. Just before this story in Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew tells of a woman who anoints Jesus’ head with costly oil. In the Jewish tradition, the king’s head was anointed with oil as a sign that this was the man chosen by God to rule the people. In this story, Matthew points out that by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus is the king that had been promised by the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah. Even the crowd’s response reveals Jesus as the new king. They call Him Son of David, linking Him to the mighty King David. They greet Him with psalms of praise that had been prayed by the Israelites for a thousand years. They welcome Him in the same way that they had welcomed their kings of old, throwing their cloaks on the ground before Him and waving palms.

Let us watch throughout this Holy Week and see how He assumes His throne.