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There are several notable or perhaps somewhat curious elements in the reading chosen for Pentecost Sunday this year.
An image of Jesus and the disciples on Pentecost Sunday

In the first place, this Gospel account of Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples is not speaking about the Day of Pentecost, as we usually think of it. The outpouring of the Spirit upon the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem took place sometime after Jesus’ Ascension. The event in the Gospel today took place, obviously before the Ascension. We might remember also, that in John’s account of Jesus on the cross, he breathed out his Spirit upon Mary and the beloved disciples at the moment of death. Breathing out his spirit could also mean that ‘he died’. St. John’s Gospel often contains the irony of double meaning.

We could perhaps say the same about the words of Jesus on the cross: ‘It is finished/accomplished!’ they contain so very much more than a statement about Jesus knowing that his life has ended. Jesus has now fully accomplished all that the Father asked him to do. Now, the new creation begins! Now, Jesus is the true King of Israel, and of the whole world! Now, the Spirit can be given to affect a new creation in others! This is the message that John Wants to understand, and in the same message contained in this account of the incident recorded today. The risen Lord is beginning the process of exercising his Kingship in the world. The disciples are becoming new creations themselves through the gift of the Spirit.

This also explains the fact that twice in this incident, as well as on the other occasions after the resurrection, Jesus says to the disciples, ‘Peace be with you’. Until now, Jesus had never said this. Is there a particular significance? Earlier in St. John’s Gospel, Jesus had said: ‘Peace I leave with you; my own peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’. ‘Peace’ is the state of living under Jesus’ Kingship, even in the midst of this world – because now all things are under his authority and will, even those things which we might think of as bad!

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