Gospel Reflections

2nd Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-31

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Camilla Burns

Published: April 28, 2019

Read John 20:19-31

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... Read More…


“They carried the sick out into the streets so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might overshadow one or another of them” (Acts 5:15}. This is an extraordinary occurrence in the New Testament since most of the healing takes place by some form of touch.  The closest we come to healing by sheer presence or at a distance is the woman who touched the garment of Jesus (Lk 8:43), the Centurion’s servant who was healed from a long distance (Lk 7: 1-10) and perhaps Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:12). The mention of the power of Peter’s shadow gives us pause to think about the influence of our own presence.  Sometime just “showing up” gives a strong message without words. Think about the quality of your own presence and never underestimate its meaning.

Another ephemeral word of breath occurs in the Gospel when Jesus appears to the disciples who are cowering behind locked doors after Calvary.  Jesus offers them peace and sends them forth.  As he commissions them “he breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). This parallels the creation story in Genesis when God gathered the dust from the earth and breathed the breath of life into it to create a human person (Gen 2:7).  Breath brings life.

The association of breath with the Holy Spirit is certainly not new to us but like all repeated scripture, we can hear it again for the first time and realize that the breath comes to us again to bring new life. Breathing is something we take for granted until we can’t, or it becomes difficult. How often do we move through the hours of our day without noticing our breath but surely relying on its availability? In the same way, how often is the Spirit of Life moving in and around us and we don’t take notice? Perhaps becoming aware of our breath from time to time reminds us to breathe the Breath of God.

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