The Gospel reading for Sunday 7 April is John 20.19-31
‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you… receive the Holy Spirit’
After the bewildering events of Holy Week and Easter, no wonder we find the disciples huddled in an upper room! This Gospel is about the Risen Lord’s effect on his dispirited and anxious followers. Jesus sends the Spirit on his disciples that they, in turn, might be sent out. We’re reminded that the Church exists not for itself but for the world—to make the Word flesh in every generation. As in Jesus’ life, that involves courage and generosity.
Pope Francis’ homily on Maundy Thursday (as his clergy renewed their ordination vows at the Chrism Mass) expressed this very clearly:
It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord… [G]race comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.
It also involves conflict – because the values of this world are not the values of God’s Kingdom – and so those who bear God’s Word in every generation should also expect to bear the scars of the cross.
The Gospel reading for Sunday 14 April is John 21.1-19
Jesus said to Peter, ‘Follow me.’
This Gospel has echoes of Jesus’ initial meeting with Peter —the unsuccessful fishing, followed by an abundant catch; and the call to move from catching fish to spreading the Gospel.
The difference is that this conversation comes after Peter’s betrayal. It was the ultimate test of loyalty, and a test he was confident he would pass. But in the end, at the most crucial moment, he was found wanting.
It’s a shattering feeling— one many of us will have had at some point– to have our courage and loyalty tested, and be found wanting.
The good news of today’s Gospel is that Jesus gives us a second chance. This isn’t to deny the pain and harm our betrayals cause; but it reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient to triumph even over these.