Homily for Pentecost Sunday ©, June 9th, 2019:
This Pentecost Sunday is real for us. This is a real event in which Jesus Christ renews His Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Gospel reading (John 20:19-23) gives a baseline for Pentecost Sunday. Today’s gospel reading recalls the Apostles hiding on Easter Sunday. So this is Jesus’s first post-Resurrection appearance to His Apostles and disciples. Jesus penetrates the locked doors but more importantly, Jesus penetrates their fears (John 20:19). Jesus penetrates their fears and replaces them with “peace” (John 20:19,21). Jesus shows His Apostles and disciples His physical, resurrected body to prove conclusively that this is Him. Their reaction is pure joy. Jesus bestows again peace on them. And then Jesus confers on His Apostles and disciples the same mission God the Father gave Him: to forgive sins, to heal, and to preach, to spread the faith and bring everyone into His one Church. Jesus breathes on them and communicates to them the Holy Spirit. This is a partial anticipation of the full coming of the Holy Spirit upon them at Pentecost. This is an appetizer but Jesus has fully commissioned them for their task, their mission. The power to remit and retain sins shows that the Apostle and disciples have judicial authority in this Church to identify and teach which acts are sinful and which are not. This same power is given the Apostles and disciples sacramentally. Holy Mother Church has always understood Jesus’s act as the institution of penance, reconciliation, confession. By the way, since this appearance occurred Easter Sunday evening, St. Thomas was absent. Jesus appears to the Apostles and disciples again, one week later, and Thomas is present. Since Jesus gave this power to forgive sins to His Apostles and disciples, Jesus must have given this authority to Thomas too.
It is also important to point out that Thomas was not present with the Apostles and disciples that Easter Sunday evening, when Jesus appears to them resurrected (John 20:24). Thomas is gone somewhere. For some reason, Thomas is separated from the Apostolic College, and is not unified with the “main body.” Notice what Thomas’s reaction is to the Apostle’s report: “Unless I see the scars of the nails in His hands and put my finger in the scars and my hand in His side, I will not believe”(John 20:25). Thomas will not believe. When we separate ourselves from this Church and her teachings, and seek our own beliefs, we subject ourselves to disbelief, errors, and sin. For some reason, Thomas was absent. Separated from the body of disciples and Apostles, he disbelieved. That is critical.
The Holy Spirit’s effects on us are to correct our false, sinful, and worldly beliefs about this sinful world’s allurements and instead teach us eternal truths, through Holy Mother Church. Jesus has promised this Church the Holy Spirit’s accompaniment forever. How do we stand in relation to the eternal truths as taught by this Church? Are we docile to them? Are we eager and zealous in our affection toward them? Is our Catholic faith animated, fervent, and lively? Do we love virtue? Do we hate vice? The sending of the Holy Spirit on these Apostles and disciples at this Easter Sunday appearance, and more fully, at Pentecost, enables them to convert a corrupt, sinful world. It is the same for us here today because this Pentecost Sunday gift of the Holy Spirit is real for us here today. May we go out and teach, and model virtues, and oppose vices and sins, and lead others into this Church in a unified and wonderful way until we all belong to one Body, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, His Church, this one.
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