As the disciples mourn the loss of Christ, and contemplate Mary Magdalen’s words, that she had seen the Lord, they sit shut away in darkness, in a locked room. Christ wasted no time in appearing to them to provide them with comfort.

Christ appears to them despite the locked door – It was locked because they were hiding from the Jews. But also, it is symbolic of the state of their hearts. Even though they have closed themselves off, Christ is able to appear to them. And that is a message to us. At times, we may close ourselves off to the world, even to God, but he is always there for us, he is always able to hear our prayers, and he always comforts us.

The first thing he did was give the disciples peace. Peace be with you – and with thy Spirit. The peace was Christ; he was the peace; he is the peace of the world. He gave them of himself, just as he does us, through the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.

He stands before them, truly God and also truly man. He demonstrates this by showing them the wounds of his resurrected body. In full glory. Just as we hope to be after the day of Judgement. In his resurrection, he shows us his humanity and his divinity.

With peace comes forgiveness

The Apostles denied, betrayed and abandoned Christ in his hour of need, just as he had said they would. They were sorry for it, of course, but even though he warned them it would happen, they still went ahead and denounced him.

Peter denied Christ three times before the crock crowed. Judas betrayed him with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver. Thomas doubted until he could touch Jesus with his own hands.

However, when Christ returned to his disciples, he forgave them. God is love. An unconditional love. He loves his sons and daughters and shows mercy on us, even when we do not deserve it.

Christ knew Judas would betray him, yet he ate supper with him anyway. That is the level of forgiveness expected from us.

Not only did Christ forgive his apostles, but he gave them the power of absolution. He breathed the Holy Spirit into them and said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” The mercy Christ showed to his disciples is meant to be shared with the world.

Christ sent his disciples on a mission of love, peace and forgiveness. To preach repentance of sin, but also forgiveness. They were to do God’s work, not of their own will, but His.

This is why we go to Confession, we get our sins off our chest by telling them to the priest, and he – through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit – absolves us of our sins. It is in our Prayer book, as we heard at the begininng of Morning Prayer today.

The Sacrament of Penance, commonly known as Confession, was instituted by Christ at the beginning of the Church; it is a divine mercy.

This is our second chance. God breathed his Spirit on us once before, in Genesis. But we flaunted it with sin. He now breaths on us again through his apostles, granting them a touch of his Grace to bestow upon us. In Pentecost, he sends the Holy Spirit down upon his disciples once more to fulfil the prophecy. He says he cannot stay with us on earth forever because he must go to send his Spirit, and that is what he does.

Christ’s apostles receive His authority to grant forgiveness and to retain sin. Binding and loosing are gifts of the Church. But they can only forgive what God forgives because they forgive with his authority, not theirs. Through their consecration – their ordination – they are provided with the strength they need to fulfil their callings. As are all of us. God calls us all to different ministries – some ordained, some lay – but he always provides us with the strength we need to fulfil them.

All of us, as Christians, are called to proclaim His truth. To disciple the nations and to forgive one another. To love God and to love one another as ourselves. These are the commandments He has given us. Let us live them. Amen

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