“Peace be with you: as my Father sent me, so I send you…Receive the Holy Spirit…Whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”
This morning I heard Frank Sinatra on the radio singing, “You aint nobody till somebody loves you.” I took it as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence on this beautiful feast day, the solemnity of Pentecost. I never imagined that God would be speaking to me through his words!
There is only one valid reason to enter into any relationship: to love and be loved. This is why the human heart seeks the Lord; this is why we were made for one another. Regardless of what some disgruntled people say, we were made for love. This is the real thing. This is the greatest thing that could ever happen to us. When we give our love and joy to others, we also give the best reason to believe in God. You cannot argue with a happy Saint!
The next greatest joy comes from loving, even without being loved back. Even this second-best joy of loving without being loved back is greater and deeper than the third joy, the joy of being loved without loving.
This is why Jesus Christ is the real thing. There is no one greater for his love is the greatest. It is totally unconditional, totally authentic and totally reliable.
Why were the doors locked? We are told for “fear of the Jews.” But I personally think that that might be a very diplomatic way of saying that they were afraid of one particular Jew, Jesus. After all, wouldn’t Christ remind them of what they had done? Peter, you denied me not once, not twice, but three times! Thomas, you wouldn’t believe me unless you saw me! Mark, you fled from me, naked! Until recently, the Apostles had given up a lot to follow the Lord. Now, they were willing to give up everything just to get away from him! The greatest tragedy had turned tragically comical!
All their fears were for nothing! They were still thinking like common men rather than like Apostles. They were not thinking like God thinks.
The Lord said, “Peace be with you.” I have forgiven you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. I have conquered the world! Christ forgives because He is victorious. The Cross is not the end of the story. The Cross is the veil of eternal life. They can only understand this because of the Holy Spirit. The Lord breathes on them and gives them a new life, a new heart and a new mission: Go and forgive.
Why are we here? To forgive. Why does the Church exist? To forgive sins. This is the most important act of charity the Church can offer! Catholic charity is alive and well thanks to the thousands of priests who hear confessions on a daily basis. It is the reason why Christ had to die: to show the Father’s forgiveness even at our worst moment; when we committed the most hideous sin imaginable. The day the Church stops forgiving sins will be the day that Heaven and earth collide and there will no longer be a need for the Church. That day, we will see Jesus face to face!
To forgive is the noblest duty of any Christian, for we too have been forgiven. Forgiveness is why we receive the Holy Spirit. It is also the reason why we are sent.
There are many in this world that will drive you to the gates of Hell. Do not enter! Do not hate! Do not lose heart. Do not allow the toxin of resentment poison your soul. Our forgiveness is like a band-aide that covers a wound and allows the Lord to take his time to let the miracle to take place! Do not allow the wound to be re-opened by picking at it, going at it, or scratching and irritating it! Love is what heals all wounds - ALL WOUNDS, for it can bear all things and endure all things. Love never fails.
The Lord valued his friendships, not for his sake, but for their sake. Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive the Lord’s Love, Joy and Peace. Open the doors that have kept you in and get out of there today!