Greetings on this Pentecost Sunday
Readings: ACTS 2:1-11; PS 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 COR 12:3-7, 12-13; JN 20:19-23
When Jesus spoke on the Mount and gave us the Beatitudes he gave the most important one last in the Gospel of Matthew.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
I am sure it is easy to get stumped on this one. How is this about forgiveness?
And yet it is exactly about forgiveness. Blessed are those who having been criticized and punished for doing what is right and instead respond with forgiveness for this is exactly what the Kingdom of heaven is about (the forgiven).
Forgiveness even in the face of injustice.
Forgiveness even when one has harmed the innocent.
The Work of the Church is Forgiveness
In today’s Gospel the reading builds to exactly this. Let us see the steps leading to this conclusion.
- Jesus brings his Peace (blessed are the peacemakers)
- Disciples rejoice.
- Jesus breathes on them.
- Disciples receive the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus sends them.
- Disciples are to forgive (blessed are the persecuted).
The Council of Trent established definitively that the Gospel of John 20:23 specifically gives the Church the Sacrament of Reconciliation as power in Christ and the responsibility to offer forgiveness again and again.
Forgiveness: fully, completely, generously, forever, without reservation.
And yet with discernment. With an eye to justice. With consideration to restitution. Not so as to deny a pathway to forgiveness but to allow the fullness of the necessity of forgiveness.
Law of Love is the Law of Forgiveness
You have heard it said from Jesus, this is my command, love one another as I have loved you.
But, ahem, how can love be commanded? Isn’t love, de facto, a voluntary act not subject to command?
Yet, indeed it is. For the law of love is the law of forgiveness of which we can certainly be held accountable.
This new law is a life principle, a way of being, that Jesus calls us to life.
Theme of My Life, Theme of the Church
The Psalmist says it well Let my theme (meditation) be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord.
Pentecost is a harvest festival. A harvest of charity. Jesus having placed the charity of God for all to see and experience on the cross of redemption is due his harvest. Pentecost harvest.
This is the theme of the Church. This is her mandate from Jesus.
Forgive sins. Teach those who are not ready for forgiveness, and wait like the Father of the Prodigal Son for any sign of readiness to be forgiven.
Harvest justice. Harvest forgiveness. Be Church.
Peace be with you,