“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.” John 20:19-31
2nd Easter Sunday
There was a father who had been unfaithful to his wife. Yet the wife forgave him, and his children welcomed him back. Then the eldest daughter met a young man in college, and both started dating. Unfortunately, the daughter soon got pregnant. While the mother was more compassionate the father was instead unforgiving and sent the daughter out of the house. Meanwhile all along the mother and the siblings supported in secret the daughter’s pregnancy. Why can’t the father forgive his daughter if he had been given a chance before by his entire family after his failure?
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Why do we call mercy divine? If divine has something to do with God, does it mean that only God can show mercy? Are humans without mercy and unable to forgive? There is an adage that goes “To err is human. To forgive is divine”. While sins, faults and failures are associated with men, forgiveness is always associated with God. Cannot we humans forgive?
In the gospel Jesus appeared to His apostles in the Upper Room where they had the last supper, where they were hiding for fear of the Jews. Jesus greeted them “Peace” for they were afraid of the Jews who might also be after killing them. Jesus greeted them “Peace” a second time for they were confused at seeing Him alive after being crucified.
Then Jesus breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit saying “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained.” The Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to forgive sins. Today we know that only priests can forgive our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation. But at Baptism and especially at Conformation we as Christians received too the fulness of the Holy Spirit. It must follow then that ordinary lay persons could also receive the power to forgive sins if not sacramentally at least in our daily encounter with one another. When we are not able to forgive those who sin against us is it then a sign that the Holy Spirit has departed from us?
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