|Father Perry D. Leiker|
"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Even at face value, it just doesn’t get any better than this. This is the good news. Jesus hands over to his disciples (who are sinners) the gift of forgiveness. He "breathed into them" the power to forgive and retain sin. This is a gift from God. Only God can truly forgive sin, and he always does.
But through ministry and discipleship, this gift is and was to be shared so that everyone could experience the peace that comes with forgiveness. Anyone can experience healing from shame and brokenness. Anyone can find themselves returned to wholeness and holiness. Anyone can rediscover their dignity through the gift of God's forgiveness and love. This, Jesus did. But is it any surprise? Is this not typical of Jesus.
What keeps us down more than our shame and guilt? What prevents our movement forward more than our past sin and wrongdoings? What cripples our hope for a better future more than our remembrances of a bad past? Sin! It is powerful. Sin is destructive. Sin infects the core of our spirit and is deeper than emotion and thought, and is only healed in the spirit by the Spirit.
Pentecost is the sending of the Spirit. Pentecost is the real beginning of the church. Pentecost is new life, and healing, forgiveness and unity at the very core. The promise and the gift of the Holy Spirit is our way to the Father, and our way to understand and live the teachings of Jesus.
Our simple prayer should be said and said often: "Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in them the fire of your love!"
Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.