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.
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.
This is a cool Sacrament of Reconciliation crossword puzzle: