CLAY ANIMATED BY THE SPIRIT
John has taken good care with the story about Jesus entrusting his mission to his disciples. He wants to leave very clear what is essential. Jesus is in the center of the community, filling all with his peace and joy. But a mission is awaiting the disciples. Jesus hasn’t called them together just to enjoy him, but so that they’d make him present in the world.
Jesus «sends» them. He doesn’t say concretely to whom they need to go, what they need to do, or how they need to act: «As the Father sent me, so am I sending you». Their task is the same as Jesus’. Nothing more: what Jesus has received from the Father. They must be in the world what he has been.
They’ve already seen to whom he drew near, how he treated the most needy, how he has brought forward his project of humanizing life, how he has sown gestures of liberation and forgiveness. The wounds in his hands and side remind them of his complete self-giving. Jesus now sends them so that they «reproduce» his presence among the nations.
But he knows that his disciples are weak. More than once he has found himself surprised by their «little faith». They need his own Spirit to complete their mission. That’s why he gets ready to do for them a very special gesture. He doesn’t place his hands on them or bless them, as he had done with the sick and the little ones: «He breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit».
Jesus’ gesture has a force that we don’t always grasp. According to the biblical tradition, God formed Adam from «clay»; then God breathed on him God’s «breath of life»; and that clay became a «living being». That is a human being: a little bit of clay living on God’s Spirit. And that will always be the Church: clay living on Jesus’ Spirit.
Believers who are weak and of little faith: Christians of clay, theologians of clay, priests and bishops of clay, communities of clay…Only Jesus’ Spirit changes us into the living Church. The places where God’s Spirit isn’t welcomed remain «dead». They do damage to everyone, since they keep us from actualizing God’s living presence among us. Many can’t grasp in us the peace, joy and the life that is renewed by Christ. We mustn’t baptize only with water, but we must instill Jesus’ Spirit. We mustn’t only talk about love, but we must love people as he did.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf