BY THE SPIRIT
John has given great care to the scene in which Jesus is going to entrust his disciples with his mission. He wants to leave very clear what’s essential. Jesus is in the center of the community, filling all with peace and joy. But for the disciples a mission awaits. Jesus hasn’t brought them together just to enjoy him, but to make him present in the world.
Jesus «sends» them. He doesn’t tell them concretely to whom they need to go, what they need to do or how to do it: «As the Father has sent me, so I also send you». Their task is the same as his. There’s no other: what Jesus has received from the Father. They must be in the world what he has been.
They’ve already seen to whom he has drawn near, how he has treated the most needy, how he’s carried forward his project of humanizing life, how he has sown acts of liberation and forgiveness. The wounds in his hands and side attest to his complete self-giving. Jesus sends them now to «reproduce» his presence among the peoples.
But he knows that his disciples are fragile. More than one time he’s been surprised by their «little faith». They need his own Spirit to complete his mission. That’s why he gets ready to do a very special gesture with them. He doesn’t impose his hands 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 power that we don’t always know how to grasp. According to the biblical tradition, God modeled Adam with «clay»; then God breathed on him the «breath of life»; and that clay became a «living being». That’s what a human being is: a little clay animated by God’s Spirit. And that will always be the Church: clay animated by Jesus’ Spirit.
Fragile believers of little faith: Christians of clay, theologians of clay, priests and bishops of clay, communities of clay… Only the Spirit of Jesus changes us into the living Church. The zones where his Spirit isn’t welcome remain “dead”. These zones damage us all, since they keep us from actualizing his living presence among us. Many can’t grasp in us the peace, joy and life that is renewed by Christ. We don’t need to baptize just with water, but we need to infuse the Spirit of Jesus. We don’t need to just talk about love, but we need to love people as he does.
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf