JESUS WILL SAVE THE CHURCH
Terrified by Jesus’ execution, the disciples take refuge in a familiar house. Once again they are together, but Jesus isn’t with them. In the community there’s a hole that no one can fill. They lack Jesus. Whom will they follow now? What will they be able to do without him? «It’s getting dark» in Jerusalem and also in the disciples’ hearts.
They are inside the house «with the doors locked». It is a community without mission and without vision, closed in on itself, without capability of welcome. No one’s thinking about heading out on the road to announce God’s Reign or to bring healing to people’s lives. With the doors locked it’s not possible to draw near to the suffering of people.
The disciples are full of «fear of the Jews». It’s a community paralyzed by fear, defensive. They see only hostility and rejection on every side. With fear it’s not possible to love the world as Jesus loved it, nor is it possible to instill encouragement and hope in anyone.
All of a sudden the Risen Jesus takes the initiative. He comes to rescue his followers. «He came into the house and stood in their midst». The little community begins to be transformed. From fear they pass to the peace that Jesus instills in them. From the darkness of night they pass to the joy of returning to see him full of life. From the locked doors they soon pass to announce the Good News of Jesus everywhere.
Jesus speaks to them, putting his full confidence in those poor men: «As the Father has sent me, so I also send you». He doesn’t tell them whom they need to approach, what they need to announce or how they need to act. That’s what they’ve already been able to learn from him on the roads of Galilee. They will be in the world as he has been in the world.
Jesus knows his disciples’ frailty. Many times he has criticized their small and faltering faith. They need the power of his Spirit in order to complete his mission. That’s why he does a special gesture to them. He doesn’t impose his hands or bless them as he did for the sick. He breathes his breath over them and tells them: «Receive the Holy Spirit».
Only Jesus will save the Church. Only he will free us from the fears that paralyze us, break the worn-out structures that we try to enclose him in, open so many doors that we have gone about closing throughout the centuries, straighten so many paths that have led us away from him.
What he asks of us is to revive all the more in the whole Church a trust in the Risen Jesus, mobilize ourselves to fearlessly put him in the center of our parishes and communities, and concentrate all our efforts in listening well to what his Spirit is saying to his followers today.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf