“As the Father sent me, I also send you.”
(Read John 20: 19–23)
The vocation of the children of God, which is proper for all the baptized, is fulfilled in our mission towards the brethren. We all are apostles: it is the very love of the Son that pushes us towards all the brethren (2 Cor 5: 14). He, who is boundless in His solidarity with us, in His love as a brother, shows us the Father’s love.
His mission is already accomplished on the Cross where He fulfils a perfect love. From there, He offers us His life, His Spirit. In order for the gift to be accepted, for the seed to bear fruit, for love to be welcomed, time is necessary. What He offers us, as a gift from the Cross, we receive after fifty days – at Pentecost.
John the evangelist, however, puts Pentecost on the very Easter Day. In fact, when we welcome love, it is Easter: God’s rising in us and we in Him. He, who is love, dies where He is not loved and lives where He is loved. We ourselves pass from death to life when we love; for “whoever doesn’t love remains in death” (1 John 3: 14).
If we love, God lives in us and we in Him. Our loving answer makes Him abide in us as we forever abide in Him, who loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31: 3). We make our home in the heart of those who love us. Love itself lives by reciprocity. When we welcome the Lord’s love, it is Easter, the Feast of Liberation for us and for Him! He enters the sepulchre of our fears and gives us His “peace”, which is fullness of all goodness.
This peace issues from His wounds. Love’s omnipotence reveals itself in the powerlessness of hands that are nailed and a heart that is pierced. The disciples “rejoice”: these wounds “show us the Lord”. They are the indubitable sign of a love that is stronger than death; they show that the Risen One is He Himself, the Crucified. It is a joy that nobody can take away (John 16: 23).
Our peace and joy find here their perennial source. The experience of His love for us gives us our identity as people: we are children of God, loved by the Father and the Son with an absolute love. In it, we find our dignity: our vocation to be loved and our mission to love the way we are loved.
The joy of discovering our name as children pushes us, as it does the Son, to the mission towards the brethren: “As the Father sent me, I also send you.” Like Him, we also are sent to the world to witness the Father’s love (John 3: 16; 17: 6.18.26). For this, He chose us (John 15: 16) and identified Himself with us (John 13: 20).
The relation that was between Him and the Father is the same that incurs between Him and us. It is as if He said: “You are me if you do what I did to you. As I washed your feet and loved you, in the same way you should wash one another’s feet and love one another with a mutual love; as I gave you joy and peace in my forgiveness, in the same way you should give each other joy and peace in forgiveness.” We shall come back later on the theme of forgiveness: reconciliation is the aim of every mission (Cf. Luke 24: 47; 2 Cor 5: 14–6: 2). This is why He gave us the Spirit who makes us new creatures.
The wounds of the Crucified and Risen Jesus are the source of every call and mission. The wounds remain open even after the resurrection, so that everyone, like unbelieving Thomas, may put his finger in His hand and immerse himself in the flow of blood and water streaming from His side, which generates him. We all know the generation “from below”, from the flesh that only gives us biological life but there is also a generation “from above”, from the Spirit that gives us our authentically human life. A person is such if and inasmuch as he/she is loved: he/she is generated by the love of others, by the wound of their hearts.
The Son’s wounds will close when the last of the brethren will have entered to feast with Him and with the Father. It is for this that those who are already in and celebrate the Eucharist, knowing the love by which they are loved, are sent to the brethren. The Mass is always Mission! In it, Jesus is always asking us, as to the leper whom He healed and came back to thank: “And the others, whom I loved and saved like yourself, where are they?”
Some questions for our reflexion:
• What kind of experience and witness do I offer, at a personal, communitarian and social level, of the peace, joy, love and forgiveness I have received?
• Does mission towards those who are far from the Gospel spring for me from the celebration of the Eucharist?