June 11, 2011
Fears Transformed to Power
The disciples are afraid.
It helps us appreciate the power of the presence of the Risen Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit if we take a deeper look at the setting of the Gospel passage.
The passage begins with the time of the event, "On the evening of that first day of the week." What day is "that first day of the week"? Why does John mention it so explicitly?
John specifies that day because earlier on that first day of the week, the disciples have heard at least twice the news that Jesus has risen from the dead, just as he has told them. First, through Mary of Magdala and then through Peter and the other disciple who went to find the empty tomb with the burial cloths all folded neatly (John, Chapter 20). They must have told the other disciples upon their return. For sure, Mary did after the Risen Jesus appears to her. Verse 18 reads, "Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and what he told her."
Yet, the very next sentence, we find the disciples lock themselves behind closed doors out of fear.
To these fearful disciples, Jesus comes. Unlike the words of Mary, Peter, and the other disciple, Jesus' words and his presence bring them peace.
He then gives them the power and strength of the Holy Spirit
Not only are they no longer afraid, they are now sent to change people's lives and hearts . They now have that power. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
We may be at times confused and even fearful.
Jesus, in his words, his Eucharist, and his Church, continues to be presence to us.
And His gift of the Holy Spirit is with us.
We need to be afraid no longer. We too are called, empowered by the gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to go and transform lives.
 Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 533.