Resurrection Saturday - LIFE OF CHRIST, by Fulton Sheen
RESURRECTION SATURDAY – Saturday April 27
“After having proved to His disciples that He had risen by showing them His hands, feet, and side, and by eating before them, he gave to them the second salutation of peace, saying: “Peace be upon you; I came upon an errand from My Father, and now I am sending you out in My turn. With that, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:21)
The first salutation of peace was then they were frightened; now that they were filled with the joy of believing, the second salutation of peace had reference to the world. His concern was not with the world of His public life, but the whole world He had redeemed. A few hours before He had gone to His death He had prayed to His Father: “Thou hast sent Me into the world on Thy errand; and I have sent them into the world on My errand.” (John 17:18) Continuing the idea, He said that He was praying not only for those that would be His representatives upon earth but for everyone throughout history who would believe in Him. “It is not only for them that I pray; I pray for those who are to find faith in Me through their word.” (John 17:20)
Thus the night of the Last Supper before going to His death, he was concerned about His mission to the world after His Crucifixion – a mission into a world that had rejected Him. Now, after the Resurrection, He reiterated the same idea to His Apostles, the twelve stones of the foundation of this city of God. In the Old Testament the high priest put stones on the raiment he wore over his breast; now the true High Priest engraved living stones on His heart. His mission and their mission was one. As Christ was sent and through His suffering entered into glory, so now He bequeathed to them His share of the Cross and, after that, His glory.
Our Lord did not say, “As My Father sent Me so also I send you,” because there are two entirely different Greek words used in the original for “sent”. The first word was used to describe both Our Lord’s mission from the Father and the mission of the Holy Spirit; the second word implied rather a commission, and had reference to Christ’s authority as an ambassador. Christ came forth from the eternal bosom of the Father in His Incarnation; so now the Apostles would go forth from Him. Just as our Lord had insisted on the difference between “My Father” and “Your Father” so now He stressed the difference between the respective missions. Christ was sent to manifest the Father because He was one in nature with the Father; the Apostles, who were the foundation stones of the Kingdom, were to manifest the Son. As he spoke these words they could see the glorious scars on His risen Body. Imprinting them on their mind, they understood that as the Father had sent Him to suffer in order to save mankind, so the Son was sending them to suffer persecution. As the love of the Father was in Him, so the love of the Father and Himself would be in them. The authority behind the apostolic mission was overwhelming; for its roots were in the analogy of the Father sending His Son and of the Son sending them.
Then Our Lord breathed on them as he conferred some power of the Holy Spirit… Now that the Apostles had learned to lisp the alphabet of Redemption, He breathed on them as a sign and an earnest of what was to come… It was… a foretelling of the rushing wind of Pentecost. As he has breathed into Adam the breath of natural life, so now He breathed into His Apostles, the foundation of His Church, the breath of Spiritual life. As man became the image of God in virtue of the soul that was breathed into him, so now they became the image of Christ as the power of the Spirit was breathed into them. The Greek word used to express His breathing on them is employed nowhere else in the New Testament; but it is the very word which the Greek translators of the Hebrew used to describe God’s breathing a living soul into Adam. Thus there was a new creation as the first fruit of the Redemption.
As He breathed on them, He gave them the Holy Spirit… Three times the Holy Spirit is mentioned with some external sign; as a dove at Christ’s baptism betokening His innocence and Divine Sonship; as fiery tongues on the day of Pentecost as a sign of the Spirit’s power to covert the world; and as the breath of the Risen Christ with all of its regenerative power… By breathing the Spirit upon His Apostles did He show that He was the regenerator of… life.”
(Chapter 55, pgs. 885 – 888)
THANKS BE TO GOD
for ARCHBISHOP FULTON SHEEN
who, while he lived,
lived for Christ,
and wrote about Christ -
whose words in his book LIFE OF CHRIST
have spoken to us and have blessed us so tremendously
during this year's Lenten and Resurrection season!
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