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Light Up The World

...He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'
John 20:19-31

Sermon Topic Holy Spirit

Sermon Week Second Sunday of Easter Cycle A

Scripture Summary John 20:22


Due to the vast television coverage of last year's campaigns for the U.S. Presidency, even the very young became familiar with the images and the rhetoric of the leading candidates. Shortly before Election Day, a cartoon appeared in which a Sunday School teacher is preparing to lecture on the "Holy Spirit." Before beginning, he gives his class of fourth-graders the following hint on what the subject of the day will be:

He is hidden from our sight, but he fills our heart with hope. He gives us courage to face the future and the desire to do great things. Who are we talking about class?

A little girl immediately piped up: "Ross Perot?"1

The scene in today's Gospel Lesson is a room in which the Apostles have locked themselves, fearful that Jesus' persecutors will crucify them as well. Suddenly, the Risen Christ appears before them and offers them His peace. "Then," John writes, "He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn. 20:22).

Scripture is sound literature. This is to say that it is inspired -- Divinely inspired. We must remember that in transmitting the Good News, the Gospel writers are in fact communicating a Message that transforms a life of boredom and aimlessness into one of deep meaning and high purpose. The inspired Sacred Authors are "turning us on" to life.

The word "inspire" means, literally, "to breathe upon," and the word "spirituality," which is at the root of the word "inspire," means the state of having been breathed upon. Consequently, one who lives life "in the Spirit" (a spiritual person) is one who has received the Holy Spirit as her or his life's inspiration.

If we reflect seriously on today's Gospel episode, we can learn much about true inspiration. That the cowering Apostles are in need of inspiration is obvious. They are fearful. They are confused. They don't have a clue as to what to do next with their lives. Then Jesus comes to fulfill their need. Thus inspired, their lives take on new meaning and purpose. Jesus breathed the life of the Spirit into them, [...]

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