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John 20:19-23

The Word of God

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

John 20:19-23
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The disciples are baptised in the Holy Spirit. This is a new birth and a new baptism. The regenerative power of the Spirit makes it possible for us to become children of God. With this new birth, we become a new creation, formed by the same Spirit of God which moved over the world in the opening lines of Genesis, when: “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
    • What is it that blinds me to the reality of what I read about Pentecost? What makes me refuse to acknowledge that it can happen to me just as it did to the Apostles? That, within my unworthy self, there is a temple in which the Spirit adores without easing? Lord, is it a fear that, by accepting your greatness at the centre of myself, great things will be asked of me? Is it possible that, in my desire to avoid pain, I also deprive myself of experiencing joy?
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    • The risen Jesus penetrates the disciples' defences, overcomes their fears, and brings them joy. I ask him to pass through all my security systems and liberate me from whatever prevents me from 'having life and having it in all its fullness'.
    • Jesus always brings peace and reconciliation. Saint Augustine called peace 'the tranquillity of order', meaning order in my relationships with God, with other people and within myself. Where is there lack of peace in my life? Who do I need to make peace with? Do I make space to experience God's forgiveness and gift of peace? I ask for his peace so that I may bring others peace.
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    • Let me take this time to be still, to wait on the Lord, to realise that Jesus approaches me as he did the disciples, wishing me peace. I hear him say, ‘Peace be with you,’ I notice my reactions, my protests. I see, too, where I am able to receive his gift of God’s Spirit and pray that I may pass these gifts freely to others.
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    • When things are not going as we think they should, we too cower behind locked doors. Jesus understands this fear and no amount of door locking on our part will keep him from being present to us.
    • Jesus calls his disciples into mission. We too are to be the Good News in our own place and time.
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    • In the Book of Genesis God breathes on human beings to bring them life. Now Jesus breathes his Spirit into his disciples to give them new life. They will have power over sin, which otherwise deadens the human heart.
    • Holy Spirit, I welcome you now into my small heart. Let today be ‘the first day of the week’ for me, which means the first day of my renewed creation. Let us celebrate this together.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Thomas the doubter is the patron saint of so many of us. When it comes to the supernatural and spiritual, we need to be sceptical. Jesus respected Thomas's doubts, and guided his fingers into the wounds.
    • Lord, you call me blessed because I believe without the evidence of my senses. You matter more to me than what I can see, hear, touch or smell; but there are times when I falter. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
    • I listen to Jesus speak to me, 'Peace be with you.' I bring before him those aspects of my life most in need of peace and hear him say again, 'Peace be with you.'
    • Jesus speaks of peace but shows his hand and his feet: he reminds me that there is a cost to being a presence of peace in the world.