John 20:19-23 Reflection: Receive the Holy Spirit

A reading from the gospel according to John 20:19-23:

19 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.”
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”


The gospel reading above happened on resurrection day. The apostles were still very afraid of the Jews who killed their Master so they huddled themselves in a room with doors locked. Suddenly Jesus appears from nowhere. Yes He is alive yet He is not like any human being anymore. His resurrected body is not like His former physical body. He can now appear anywhere though doors are locked but He is not like a ghost either, for He can talk like a human being and He can be touched!


The first word of Jesus is PEACE! He repeated again. Perhaps the disciples were feeling guilty for having abandoned Jesus during the time when He needed them most. Yet they were happy to see Jesus again. All their fears and guilt are gone in an instant. More so when He did not rebuke them for what they did and instead granted them peace. Before they could ask for forgiveness, they already felt it in their heart that Jesus has no grudge against them. He is a compassionate Master and He understands human weaknesses.


Jesus is sending His disciples to continue His still unfinished mission of building the Kingdom of God. After training them for three years, it is time for them to apply what they have learned. Were they ready? At that moment of course they were still in a state of shock and were still trying to figure out what was happening. Yet their work is now laid out before them. No worries. The Holy Spirit is there to empower them.


Jesus spoke to them about forgiveness of sins. He has already forgiven them for their grave sin of leaving Him during His hour of need. Now they need to forgive one another. It is not easy to forgive but with the power of the Holy Spirit, they can do it. Anyone can do it. With man, it may be impossible, but with God the Holy Spirit, it becomes possible (Matthew 19:26).

Pentecost Sunday is supposed to be the 50th day after Easter Sunday. We celebrate the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To some people, it is the celebration of the foundation of the church.

Dear Jesus, send forth the Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

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