“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” vss. 22-23
The gospel writer John understood that the Holy Spirit could not be contained and said that it was like the wind. We could hear the sound of it but not know where it was coming from, or where it was going. In this passage, at the end of his gospel, he lets us know that the Spirit was focused in the breath of the Risen Christ, and was passed on to the disciples along with the power to forgive sins. The disciples took this gift seriously, and with the Holy Spirit leading the way, they made this freeing message the center of their apostolic proclamation. Through the ensuing centuries people all over the world have felt the breath of Christ and heard the good news of forgiveness. Even now, after 2000 years the Spirit refuses to be quenched and is still blowing where it wills. Periodically it blows into our lives and moves us to actively forgive others as we have been forgiven. When that happens relationships are restored and love abounds, and the Risen Christ is made visible–and even doubters become believers. Forgiveness is difficult, one of the hardest things we can even imagine doing, and can only happen when the Spirit blows into our lives.
Thought for the Day: Why would I ever retain the sins of any?