From the Pastor – May 24, 2015

masstime.usJesus 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.” (John 20:21-23)

In the context of the season of Easter, it was only 53 days ago that the apostles were gathered together in the Upper Room for the Last Supper.  Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and fed them His Body and Blood.  He made them priests by commanding them to “do this in memory of me.”  He washed their feet and instructed them about true service.  But what happened when they left the Upper Room that first time?  They ran away like scattered sheep without a shepherd.  Judas sold Him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter denied Him three times. Only St. John, who leaned on His breast at the Last Supper, was at the foot of the Cross.

And yet, when Jesus came back into the Upper Room, He didn’t chastise them.  He didn’t condemn them.  He didn’t criticize them.  He said “peace be with you.”

Why?  As Jesus said, “I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.  Remember that!

Too often we are more like the Apostles on Holy Thursday than on Pentecost Sunday. We come to Mass, and Jesus feeds us with his flesh and blood and washes us with the grace of His love.  But when we leave the Upper Room, we basically leave Him behind, giving in to the fear and worries and apprehensions of the world.  We know our mission: to love and serve the Lord, but we are often more worried about worldly pursuits than heavenly blessings.  And we “lose” our peace.  And yet, as Jesus did on Pentecost, we can come back to the Upper Room at Mass, and Jesus will tell us again: “peace be with you.”

When we look back to what the first disciples faced — Jewish and Roman authorities trying to kill them for proclaiming the Gospel, and a culture even more hostile to the Gospel than it is now — we find great reason for hope. If the Holy Spirit could work such wonders among fishermen and tax collectors, then surely He can do great things through us if we allow him.

But how?  It’s the same way that the disciples did.  We need to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us.  He sanctifies us through the Body and Blood of Christ.  He sanctifies us through Confession.  He sanctifies us through our full participation in the Community – the Church.

If we accept the peace of Jesus, we also can be transformed from cowards to heroes, from apostates to apostles, from sinners to saints.  And we can do so because of the great love that the Father has for us.  Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us from the worldly allurements of sin that lead to death.  The Holy Spirit is the “Lord, the giver of life.”  Participation in the life of the Church gives us spiritual life in this world and eternal life with the Father in Heaven.  Peace be with you!

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty