Jesus does not cease to surprise. He uses surprises to teach us everything, through the Holy Spirit, and to guide us to all truth.
What a surprise of surprises surely for the disciples to see their Teacher alive after his crucifixion and burial! His entry into the house with locked doors is, of course, part of the evening surprise that is, however, not the only one.
Another surprising thing is the trust that Jesus continues to have in his disciples. They all left him and fled at the time when he needed them most. Still, he appoints them as his missionaries. Breathing on them, he says to them:
Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.
With our receiving the Holy Spirit, more surprises are in store for us.
The Holy Spirit is the one who, for God’s glory and to our surprise, strengthens weak human flesh so that it may be at the same level as the willing human spirit. The Spirit equips us fragile folks for the work of watching with Jesus not only for one hour but continually even.
It is by the Holy Spirit that we who come from different nations, languages and cultures are able to make our common confession of faith that Jesus is Lord. The Spirit enables those baptized in him, to form one body, to foster unity in diversity and the common good. He wants us to overcome our exclusivist, elitist or racist tendencies. These destructive tendencies show up in what some call “demolition derby” politics. Such politics makes the mob cheer the louder, the greater the destruction they see or hear being fomented.
The Spirit surprises us, moreover, for he turns those who are frightened into courageous witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Likewise, he makes of those who are foolish, and slow of heart to believe, convinced preachers of the Gospel. Since he is the Father of the poor, the Spirit makes use of them to proclaim the inexhaustible riches of the generous God.
It is worth to note, too, that it is the Spirit who helps us overcome our resistance to his surprises and novelties. Unless he helps us, we will be like the snails who prefer to be imprisoned in their shells (SV.EN XII:81). Without him, we can never really testify that the cup of blessing that we bless is a sharing in the blood of Christ and that the bread that we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit! Give us the grace to face your surprises.
May 15, 2016
Acts 2, 1-11; 1 Cor 12, 3b-7. 12-13; Jn 20, 19-23