From today’s reading...
‘If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained.’” John 20:23
So the followers of Jesus are scared, locked away upstairs, and freaking out more than a little when Jesus appears in their locked room.
The first thing He does is show them His physical body, including His wounds from His crucifixion.
Then He tells them, “Peace be with you,” to soothe their fears, and He gives them their mission: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you” (John 20:20-21).
Now that they are calm and know what’s what, Jesus empowers them to fulfill the mission by giving them the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).
Then the first instruction He gives them, now that they have the Holy Spirit, deals with how they handle sin.
Jesus doesn’t say, “Hey, Yo. Just do your thing.
We have a personal relationship and I know you usually mean well. I mean, I know your heart, so if you think you did wrong, just shoot me a text and tell me you feel bad about what you did, and it’s all good. Ya dig?”
Nope. Jesus knows the corrupting, damning power of sin, even small ones because all big things started small.
Jesus also knows the power of accountability partners, i.e., swim buddies, battle buddies, wingmen, therapists, and even spouses in the battle between good and evil.
He knows the power of touch in healing, i.e., the laying on of hands by an elder, a parent, a caregiver, or a duly ordained priest.
He knows the power of the spoken word, which is how God made the universe.
It’s also how we beat ourselves up when we feel guilty and have no one to talk to.
The spoken word is also the first step of every 12-step program—“Hi, I’m Bob and I’m an alcoholic.” “Hi, Bob. Welcome. As you can see, you’re not alone.”— and it’s the first step in reconciling yourself to God, i.e., you go to a duly ordained priest and admit you have sinned and ask to be forgiven—“Hi, God, I’m a broken sinner and I need your help to get better.”
Jesus knows that first things must come first, which is why He:
- Gives us His body to nourish and strengthen us.
- Gives us His peace because living in chaos, worry, and fear is not living.
- Gives us the Holy Spirit, so we can make sense of everything He has given us.
- Gives us the means to restore our souls on earth through His ordained Church leaders via the sacrament of confession.
Take a moment and sit with this.
Ask yourself how the first Apostles could know what sins to forgive or retain if they didn’t hear them come from the mouth of each sinner.
We know the Father sent Jesus to forgive sins, and now we see Jesus tell His Apostles that they are being sent on the same mission, which is so important that it’s the first thing He tells them after He gives them His body.
So ask yourself these questions: Where can you get His daily bread? Where can you get the Holy Spirit? Where can you be told, definitively, clearly, and lovingly, in person, that your sins have been forgiven?
When you find that place, stay there and dedicate yourself to supporting it and being worthy of remaining a part of it, which is the only way to...
Stay the course.
Keep the faith.
Now go sell something.