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 John 20: 19 — 31

2nd Sunday of Easter     Year A

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

19     11 12  On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors
         were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came
         and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

20    When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 13  The
        disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21    14  (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has
        sent me, so I send you.”

22    15  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
        “Receive the holy Spirit.

23    16  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you
        retain are retained.”

24    Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when
        Jesus came.

25    So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said
        to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my
        finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not
        believe.”

26    Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with
        them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their
        midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

27    Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and
        bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving,
        but believe.”

28    17  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29    18  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have
        seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

30    19  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples
        that are not written in this book.

31    But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the
        Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have
        life in his name.

 

11 [19-29] The appearances to the disciples, without or with Thomas (cf John 11:16; 14:5), have rough parallels in the other gospels only for John 20:19-23; cf Luke 24:36-39; Mark 16:14-18.

12 [19] The disciples: by implication from John 20:24 this means ten of the Twelve, presumably in Jerusalem. Peace be with you: although this could be an ordinary greeting, John intends here to echo John 14:27. The theme of rejoicing in John 20:20 echoes John 16:22.

13 [20] Hands and . . . side: Luke 24:39-40 mentions “hands and feet,” based on Psalm 22:17.

14 [21] By means of this sending, the Eleven were made apostles, that is, “those sent” (cf John 17:18), though John does not use the noun in reference to them (see the note on John 13:16). A solemn mission or “sending” is also the subject of the post-resurrection appearances to the Eleven in Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15.

15 [22] This action recalls Genesis 2:7, where God breathed on the first man and gave him life; just as Adam’s life came from God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus. Cf also the revivification of the dry bones in Ezekial 37. This is the author’s version of Pentecost. Cf also the note on John 19:30.

16 [23] The Council of Trent defined that this power to forgive sins is exercised in the sacrament of penance. See Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18.

17 [28] My Lord and my God: this forms a literary inclusion with the first verse of the gospel: “and the Word was God.”

18 [29] This verse is a beatitude on future generations; faith, not sight, matters.

19 [30-31] These verses are clearly a conclusion to the gospel and express its purpose. While many manuscripts read come to believe, possibly implying a missionary purpose for John’s gospel, a small number of quite early ones read “continue to believe,” suggesting that the audience consists of Christians whose faith is to be deepened by the book; cf John 19:35.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright
owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be
reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the
copyright owner.

 

 Appendix – Special Note on John 20: 22 — 23

 

In recognition of the faith of our Protestant brothers and sisters who read these Reflections, we acknowledge and respect the difference between the various interpretations of these very special verses from St John. We have gathered a few quotations from Catholic scholarship to clarify the teaching of the Catholic Church to assist our readers understand the position taken by their Catholic friends.

In our Hebrew Catholic understanding of this teaching of Jesus Messiah, the Church, from its infancy looked upon the power to pronounce absolution for sin as exercised under the authority of persons appointed to administer this ministry ― as had been the case historically in Judaism.

 

1.    W. Leonard (St John. A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture 1953)

By the symbolic gesture of breathing upon them he signified that he was communicating the Holy Spirit — a partial anticipation of the gift of Pentecost. The words  ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost’ made the mean¬ing quite clear. The power of remitting and retaining sins, clearly supposes judicial authority exercised over sins in a tribunal. Accordingly the Church has per¬petually understood this act of the Saviour as the institution of the sacrament of Penance (Trent, Sess. 4). Thus the sacrament of pardon was instituted under a double sign of the Saviour’s peace, on the most joyful day of the world’s history. It should be noted that in the intention of Christ who gave this power to the members of an apostolic college,  Thomas, who was absent, also received it.

 

2.    W.L. Newton (St John. A Commentary on the New Testament 1942)

The power to forgive sins was conferred in a special way, ― for it was one of the principal features of their mission. The Council of Trent (Sess. cap. 5 ― 6; Denzinger, 899 ― 902) has defined that this verse proves a ministerial power to forgive sins. St. Luke 24: 49, where the Apostles are told to await the power from on high; yet on this occasion the Holy Spirit was actually given them. The term receive implies “here and now.” The spirit is the principle of their new life, but here He confers a special power.

“He breathed on them.” Compare Genesis 2: 7; Wisdom 15: 11; Ezekiel 37:  9; external sign of this power. Its nature, the forgiving or retaining of sins, is made very clear. Here that power is definitively conferred. The forgiveness is to be effected through an act of their judgment, not merely through the faith of the penitent.

 

3.    Bruce Vawter, C.M. (Jerome Biblical Commentary St. John 1968)

23. The giving of the Spirit is here specifically related to the power given to the Church to continue the judicial character of Christ (3: 19; 5: 27; 9: 39) in the matter of sin
(St. Matthew 9: 8; 16: 19; 18: 18; St. Luke 24: 47). Catholic tradition (DB 920; DS 1710) has rightly seen in this act the origin of the Sacrament of Penance, even though it is equally true that the Church’s power over sin is also exercised in baptism and the preaching of the redemptive word.         

 

 

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