Receiving the spirit: sent

Pentecost3“As the Father has sent me, so I send you” The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17). That the disciples were sent to continue the words and works of Jesus is foreshadowed at various places in the Gospel: Jesus urged them to lift up their eyes and see fields ripe for harvest, and told them he had sent them to reap where others had labored (4:35–38), he said those who believed in him would do the works he had done and greater works than these because he was returning to the Father (14:12); he told them, “I … chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (15:16), saying that when the Paraclete comes “he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (15:26–27), and when he prayed for his disciples he said to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world” (17:18). This last text, which parallels 20:21, confirms that the sending of the disciples was ‘into the world’, i.e. with a mission to the world. The other texts reveal the essential content of their mission was to ‘harvest’ men and women for the kingdom by their witness to Jesus by word and deed, alongside the ongoing witness of the Spirit. Continue reading

Coming to believe: life

doubting-Thomas-DuccioThe Ninth Beatitude. In response, Jesus told Thomas, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Thomas came to believe because he saw the risen Lord, but Jesus did not praise Thomas’ pathway to faith; rather, he pronounced a blessing upon those who have not seen the risen Jesus yet have believed in him nevertheless. These are those who hear or read the witness to Jesus borne by the disciples and confirmed by the Spirit (15:26–27). This is the second pronunciation of blessing by Jesus in the form of a beatitude in the Fourth Gospel (cf. 13:17: “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”) Continue reading

Coming to believe: trusting

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“…do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Continue reading

Coming to believe: the Spirit given

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“Receive the holy Spirit” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The sacred writer had already introduced the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 7 in a scene during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Spirit is promised at a future time when Jesus was glorified. In the Fourth Gospel it is at the crucifixion that Jesus is glorified in that his willing obedience manifests the nature of God, which is love. It is there on the cross that Jesus deliver the Spirit into the world (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. Continue reading

Coming to believe: an excursus

doubting-Thomas-DuccioSo I send you… an excursus. “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

How one already understands and practices their faith forms parts of lens with which one understands these three simple verses. When I quiz Catholics about who is meant with the plural “you” in these verses, the  most common answer is “the apostles.” Behind the answer lies the Catholic church ecclesiology (understanding of what it means to be church) and the sacramental understanding of confession/reconciliation. Those in the Protestant and Reformed churches would not agree and (in general) understand the “you” to be all disciples. Continue reading

Coming to believe: context

doubting-Thomas-Duccio19 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.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.” Continue reading

Risen: life

doubting-Thomas-DuccioThe Ninth Beatitude. In response, Jesus told Thomas, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Thomas came to believe because he saw the risen Lord, but Jesus did not praise Thomas’ pathway to faith; rather, he pronounced a blessing upon those who have not seen the risen Jesus yet have believed in him nevertheless. These are those who hear or read the witness to Jesus borne by the disciples and confirmed by the Spirit (15:26–27). This is the second pronunciation of blessing by Jesus in the form of a beatitude in the Fourth Gospel (cf. 13:17: “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”) Continue reading

Risen: believing

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“…do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Continue reading

Risen: the Spirit given

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“Receive the holy Spirit” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The sacred writer had already introduced the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 7 in a scene during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Spirit is promised at a future time when Jesus was glorified. In the Fourth Gospel it is at the crucifixion that Jesus is glorified in that his willing obedience manifests the nature of God, which is love. It is there on the cross that Jesus deliver the Spirit into the world (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. Continue reading

Risen: an excursus

doubting-Thomas-DuccioSo I send you… an excursus. “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The Christmas and Easter stories are two points in the gospel narratives in which we are most likely to conflate materials into one single narrative. There are lots of examples… Continue reading