Already Easter/Pentecost can seem a while away, but the grace and importance of the sSeason is needed still.
In returning to the Gospel of Sunday we have the privilege of being again with the Church on that first Easter Sunday, encountering the Lord as for the first time in the glory of his Resurrection, and knowing for the first time the wonderous gift of the Holy Spirit breathed upon her.
In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
The invitation to continue the ministry of their Lord will of course prove the foundation, the bed rock, of the future peace and joy of hte disciples even as they take wounds to their ‘hands and sides’. His ministry becomes theirs and they too have to exercise the discernment as how to respond to sin and folly, to sickness and hurt.
- Whose sins will you forgive today?
- Whose sins will you retain?
The photographs above are from the place most commonly venerated as the site of the Upper Room. The photographs below are of the Church of St Mark in the Old City of Jerusalem, under which (as ancient cities rise over the centuries because of rebuilding) is found the space honoured by the Syrian Orthodox Church as the Upper Room, site of the Last Supper, of resurrection appearances and the first ‘Christian’ Pentecost. The church above is ornate, the room below distinctly homely, even when graced by the (now) Bishop of Salford.