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(English version exclusive to this website)

Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini

May 28th 2023.  Pentecost Sunday
GOSPEL   John 20, 19-23

Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio


Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

GOSPEL   John 20, 19-23

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.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


1. Hiding behind mechanisms of defence is typical of the human condition. The Holy Spirit enters this cage and brings forgiveness.

The short Gospel passage from John on this feast of Pentecost describes the effusion of the Holy Spirit as a direct consequence of the resurrection. It is from Christ’s victory over death that humanity has the possibility of receiving this new life from God. The disciples are encaged behind closed doors when Jesus erupts into their situation. This state of closure  is emblematic of the human being, who erects a whole series of defence mechanisms for his self-protection. The Holy Spirit begins his activity by bringing peace to this state of self-protective agitation, introducing the very life of God in its place.


2. The Holy Spirit is not a narcissistic consoler that makes me feel comfortable. Instead he sends us out with the love and mercy of God

We must be very careful nowadays about narcissistic interpretations of the faith whereby the Holy Spirit is treated as something that we “obtain” to help us feel better, overcome personal problems, and grant us peace. The faith is not an individualistic system of self-consolation. In the 1990s we had the emphasis of new-age practices on wellbeing and spirituality. This still casts a long shadow. The truth is that the Holy Spirit does not make us feel more comfortable, but he sends us, he turns us outwards from ourselves. Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” At this point he gives the Holy Spirit. When life is understood as a mission, it gives a completely different flavour to our existence. When our job is understood as a mission, it changes everything. When the care of ourselves and our dear ones is seen as a mandate from God, it renders every single act of ours more noble. The Holy Spirit thus transforms us into children of God because now we are living as someone who has been sent by him, to bring his love and pardon to others. In this passage, the forgiveness of sins is fundamental. If we do not bring this forgiveness of God to others, then their sins will not be remitted. This is a unique and irreplaceable responsibility that we have been given.


3. Communion with others is what brings happiness, not physical wellbeing or possessions. It is the Holy Spirit who brings reconciliation and good relationships.

The second reading on Sunday speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are given for the benefit of the entire community. Communion with others is the most important thing in life. Whoever has physical health but bad personal relationships is not a happy person. On the other hand, we may have various physical problems, but if we live in a communion of love with others, then we live a beautiful life. Happiness does not come from the satisfaction of our appetites but in our relationships. This is what the Holy Spirit accomplishes among us. He places us on the path of mercy and acceptance of others. Firstly, he communicates to us the forgiveness of God the Father who accepts us are we are, free from all shadow of condemnation, shattering the cages of fear inside of which we try to hide ourselves. Let us allow ourselves to be visited by God with his mercy, let us allow ourselves to be loved in our poverty, and let us allow ourselves to be sent to do good to others, a good that is always an echo of the good that we have first received.



It is Pentecost, and we celebrate the fulfilment of the Easter journey with the joy of the consolation of the Holy Spirit! Curiously, this great consolation event happens to a small group of people who are paralysed by fear. The Holy Spirit conquers fear. Fear, in fact, is the great enemy of the beauty of humanity and the flowering of love. How is the overcoming of fear expressed? By the fact that the apostles are able to go out and communicate with others. Everyone is able to understand what is said in their own language. In other words, the Holy Spirit gives the disciples the capacity to speak to the deepest heart of their listeners. It is the Holy Spirit, not structures or institutions, that constitutes the Church. And the forgiveness of sins, the unconditional love of God for us, is the hub of His activity. The Holy Spirit does not turn us into superheroes. He does not sort out all our personal problems and defects. Instead, he makes us witnesses to the love of God and the forgiveness of sins. There exists a “horizontal” version of the forgiveness of sins in which humans can pardon each other and wish each other well. But the cancellation of sin, the reconstruction of broken relationships, can only be achieved by God. The Pharisees were right when they complained to Jesus, “Only God can forgive sins”! We can show each other mutual compassion, but only the Holy Spirit can regenerate what has been destroyed. In fact, the gift of the forgiveness of sins is described in terms of a new act of creation in this week’s Gospel. Jesus breathes on the apostles when he enters the upper room. When God performed the first act of creation, he breathed on Adam, making him in his own image and likeness. When Jesus performs this second act of creation, he does something extra: he gives them the power to pardon of the sins of others. “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven . . .”  In other words, if they do not bring this pardon to others, then who will do so? This capacity to regenerate life from above is the special call and privilege of the Church: no other body of earth can accomplish this work. May God grant us the grace to be true signs of mercy and pardon! Our acts will show if we are indeed bearers of mercy, or if we are fixated with a legalistic sort of righteousness.

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