Jesus transforms fear, abolishes sin by sending his Spirit

By Glen Argan

It is not human to desire suffering. We recoil from any experience of suffering, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. Yet our redemption is founded on Christ’s suffering and death.

Sunday’s Gospel tells of “the disciples” cowering behind locked doors on Easter Sunday out of fear of “the Jews.” Jesus enters their midst to show the disciples the wounds in the hands and side of his glorified body. Rather than the resurrection destroying those wounds, it makes them eternal. They will never disappear, but instead are brought into the life of God.

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” Jesus tells the disciples. The disciples are not named, nor do we know how many are in that locked room. That’s because we are all there, all who proclaim that we follow Jesus.

We are sent out with our wounds, sent out with a commission to forgive or retain the sins of others. By breathing his Spirit upon us, Jesus breaks down the walls of fear and sin. The Spirit empowers us to live in the open with confidence in God’s power.

holy-spirit-doveThe Spirit does not “take away everything and make everybody feel high” in the mortal words of Bob Marley. Our wounds are redeemed, burnished but not destroyed. Through the Holy Spirit, they give us a share in divine life. Because of the Spirit, St. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2.19-20).

The soldier’s lance pierced the side of Jesus’ dead body on the cross, and from it flowed the blood of the Eucharist and the water of Baptism – the life of the Church. At this Pentecost two days later, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on his disciples.

Jesus gives us peace and joy. This peace and joy come from uniting our sufferings with his wounds, not by fleeing from them. They are fruits of living in the Spirit. They are signs of our sharing in Christ’s victory over the cross, signs of the transformation of fear and sin into glory.

Through suffering, Christ has created a new nation, one triumphant over fear and sin. This is Pentecost, the day on which new life is born.

Readings for Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019
Acts of the Apostles 2.1-11 | Psalm 104 | 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13 or Romans 8.8-17 | John 20.19-23 or John 14.15-16, 23b-26

(See more articles like this at On the Threshold)

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