Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended with power upon the Apostles in the image of tongues of fire and thus began the mission of the Church in the world. Once they received the Spirit, they went out boldly and preached to all in Jerusalem and different parts of the world. Jesus himself prepared the disciples for this mission, appearing to them on many occasions after his Resurrection. Prior to his Ascension into Heaven, he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father; that is, he asked them to stay together to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. All the disciples gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, awaiting the promised event. Today is also the birthday of the Church. The Church is basically that community and complex of communities spread all over the world which is continuing the visible presence of God and his work by living openly in the Spirit of Jesus and offering its experience of knowing Christ to the world. During his apparitions Jesus gives two gifts to his followers, the gift of his abiding peace and the power to forgive sins. He commissions them to carry on his work, empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will continue to teach them the message of Jesus.
The feast of Pentecost rounds off the tremendous mysteries that we have been commemorating since Holy Week – the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. This feast culminates in the sending of the Spirit of the Father and the Son on his disciples. This feast indicates the extraordinary intervention of God into our lives by which Jesus makes us partakers in the mystery of the Trinity. Today’s feast indicates that it is an on-going reality, which still touches our lives every single day. Let us reflect upon the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He can guide and teach us according to the purpose for which he has been sent. Through the power of the Spirit we ask for the grace to be forgiven and the grace to forgive others. Today Jesus fills us with the same Spirit to send us out on his mission to preach, reconcile and to heal.
How often do we doubt? What kind of faith do we have? Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. We doubt ourselves with hesitation and indecision. We doubt God, skeptic and cynical if things don’t go the way we want. We doubt others, we even doubt the doubters. In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents us with a life or death predicament. Our salvation totally depends on our belief in Jesus.
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.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
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.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
The Lord Jesus has risen in glory! As the time of Easter finally comes, we celebrate after the long wait and expectation during the season of Lent, because we have had true joy in Christ, Our Lord and Savior by all that He has done for us. He has released us from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of death, and showed us all the path to eternal life. On this day, Christ showed His power and might, revealing His victory over sin and death, two things that have kept us under their dominion all these while. He has fulfilled completely all that the Lord has promised His people from the beginning of time, their liberation and reconciliation, which He has done by His loving sacrifice on the cross, and bringing the souls of the faithful to God, their loving Father and Creator.
The most important aspect of Easter that we must realize is one of transformation of our lives. Through Easter, by Our Lord’s resurrection, and earlier on through His suffering and death, God has united us all to Himself, and we have been called to share in His suffering and death, to endure the pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties of denying our own selves, our prideful, our egoistic, our greedy, our lustful and our sinful selves, and embrace the new existence in Christ.
Our celebration of Easter reminds us that the darkness of evil and hatred will never have the last say. For the resurrection of Jesus proclaims the ultimate triumph of light over darkness and goodness over evil, both in us and in our world.
Jesus was buried at sunset, as darkness was once again creeping over the earth, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day the sun came up on him victorious and triumphant, alive, powerful and influential. Once again, ‘the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (Jn 1:9)
So we celebrate his resurrection today by rising from darkness and death ourselves. The Risen Lord himself, represented here by this beautiful Easter candle burning in our midst, is asking us to leave behind the works of darkness, to renounce and reject anything and everything in our lives which is dark, sinister and evil, and as persons connected to him by baptism, to ‘walk always as children of the light‘, following in his footsteps.
Let us all turn towards Him, and be truly filled with the spirit of Easter joy, that we may be committed to share this joy with one another, especially with those who are doubting, those who are unsure about their faith, and those who are faltering in their dedication to God. And let us bring the light of Christ to more people, to all those who are still enslaved by sin and by the darkness of this world.