As Mary McGlone says: “Only now, in their own desolation, were these disciples in enough of a helpless, hopeless position to understand what [Jesus] taught, and receive what he offered. John tells us that Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ With the breath of security knocked out of them, they were finally hollowed out enough to receive what only Jesus could give.”
As Fr. Joseph Donders says, “The resurrection was terrific… The disciples were terrified. What was [Jesus] going to do? He came and he forgave. They were saved, and their salvation had to be filled up….They had to turn to God. They had to build a human community. They had to love each other…. They had to go out, to realize in this world the message [Jesus] had brought from the world he came from: PEACE.”
Being together in community got them through the death of Jesus, the fear of being killed themselves, the forgiveness of themselves for betrayals, for leaving, for all their disbeliefs. Community held them together, so they could be open enough to see Jesus when he appeared, and believe in him.
What if we took being in community seriously? What would change? How would we be changed? Would we be more attentive to each other, helping each other believe in Jesus the Risen One? Would we be more attentive to those who are poorer than ourselves? Consider the ways this is already happening in us. We help those in need of rent or food or utility payments. We support those who just need someone to talk to. And we do it willingly.
That is who Jesus calls to spread the Good News – humans who are never perfect. Jesus knows this so he breathes on them, and on us, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. Through the Spirit, and through our community, we can come closer to living God’s mercy and compassion.
Once Thomas saw the wounds on Jesus’ body his response was Spirit-filled, “My Lord and My God.’
It is the response we are asked to give each day. “My Lord and My God.” Yes, I’ll follow you – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sharing what I have with those poorer than myself, making God’s mercy and compassion visible in this world, building up the community, spreading God’s love far and wide.
Today’s Scripture calls us to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, to accept being sent into the world, to spread the Good News, to love as God loves, with the help of our community, and do it all with joy and enthusiasm. As Jesus says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit!”
Mary McGlone. NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, April 2-15, 2021 Page 19.
Fr. Joseph Donders. GIVE US THIS DAY. April 2021. Page 161.