When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
Notes on John 20:19-23
In this resurrection appearance the whole passage (which we read a few weeks ago) usually focusses on the doubt then faith expressed by Thomas. Reading only this part on this day we are focussed on the gift which Jesus is giving to those who follow him, the gift of the Spirit. We are reminded, from the wider story of the people of God, of the way that Elisha asked for a share in the spirit of Elijah when the older prophet was passing. What this context helps us to realise is that here Jesus is not introducing some other element (or person) into his relationship with his disciples. He is giving the strength, the ‘inspiration’ to live as he has lived, to see the world as he sees it, to interact with the same compassion and love and invitation which he has lived. This is the same gift breathed into us today, wherever we are.