April 23, 2006 - Year B - Easter 2

John 20:19-31

 19 On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews, but Jesus came and stood in their midst. He said to them, "Peace be with you"; 20 then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

21 Again Jesus said to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 After saying this he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit; 23 for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained."

24 Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he replied, "Until I have seen in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

26 Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands; stretch out your hand and put it into my side. Resist no longer and be a believer."

28 Thomas then said, "You are my Lord and my God." 29 Jesus replied, "You believe because you see me, don't you? Happy are those who have not seen and believe."


30 There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. 31 These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; believe and you will have life through his Name.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 19. Just as in the first creation God infused life into Adam, so, too, Jesus' breath communicates life to the new spiritual creation. Christ, who died to take away the sin of the world, now leaves to his own the power to forgive.

Thus the hope of the Biblical people has been realized. God led them in such a way that they felt the universal presence of sin, and so they offered animals in the Temple uninterruptedly to appease God. That river of blood failed to destroy sin, and the priests themselves offered sacrifices for their own sins before praying to God for the others. Ceremonies and rites had no power to purify the heart or to give the Holy Spirit.

Now, in the person of Jesus risen from the dead, a new world has begun. Although humanity may continue to sin, already the first of its sons and daughters, the "eldest brother of them all" is sharing fully the holy life of God.

Those who strive for the spiritual life, suffer above all from a keen awareness of the universal presence of sin. They grieve deeply at not yet having attained total liberation from sin. Hence they recognize the forgiveness of sin as the greatest gift given to the Church.

The capacity to forgive is the only power able to release the great tensions within humankind. Although it does not easily conquer hearts, it is an invaluable secret and the Church should consider it as its own particular treasure.

One who does not know how to forgive does not know how to love. On making us aware of sin and purifying us from it, the Church helps us demonstrate a more authentic love for the neighbor.

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Comments by Wesley

1. "Peace be with you" is said twice. First to fearful people and then to joyful people. We can understand peace in the midst of fear but have a harder time with peace in the midst of joy.

As you think about the downs and ups of your life, do you think some peace at both ends would have helped. This is more than just some middle ground between mania and depression. This is a wholeness that glimpses both in a healthy manner. In some sense the peace mentioned here is like the yin-yang symbol.

2. That same peace is for early adaptors and those who still refuse to participate in the technologies of the present. Mary M. in the Garden early and Thomas D. in a Room late both find peace that passes their understanding. This peace is for those who are celebrating Holy Humor Sunday and God's great joke of resurrection, and those worship is so pickle-ish on the outside.

3. That peace is for those whose experience base is wide and those who have constricted their own to avoid any cognitive or any other dissonance. This peace is for those who believe already and those who never will. This peace allows us to proceed without the full story (which can never be told) and to keep expanding what we do know of the story (hooray for midrash).

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