“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.”

John 20:22-23

Tuesday, 13 April 2021 

John 20:19-31

There is something powerful and intimate about this moment when Jesus breathes on his disciples. The warmth of his life-giving breath enters into them. The gift of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised, enters into us too. And here they and we are being empowered as the new Christian community to minister to one another and to those seeking God.

When he was alive and engaged in his teaching and healing ministry, Jesus often said to people, “Your sins are forgiven”. He was accused of blasphemy as the religious teachers said that only God could forgive sins. And yet, here Jesus is showing that the power to forgive resides in the Christian community. God freely shares that power with us through the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness in the Christian community is not only offered within the church in a formal sacramental way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This resurrection encounter reveals that we are each called to be ministers of God’s forgiveness and grace in our relationships and contexts. Forgiveness is a powerful act. It is a setting free, a liberation from the burden of guilt. It is an experience of restoration and new life. It is fundamental to living as followers of Christ. To forgive those who have hurt us is something we can only do through God’s grace.

Like the disciples, the Risen Lord breathes his Holy Spirit into us to speak words of consolation, healing, and forgiveness. We open ourselves to receive the Spirit through prayer and attentiveness to God’s invitation. Then we are empowered to be channels of God’s powerful grace in the lives of the people we encounter.

Reflect today on:

Where am I called to be a minister of the forgiveness of the Risen Christ?

Where do I need to experience the healing grace of Christ in and through the Christian community?

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
See more from Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
1 Comment
  • Mitzi Andersen
    Posted at 19:58h, 14 Apr

    Thank you for your inspiring comments, Annemarie.

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