2 Easter, Year A: The Breath of Life


Acts 2:14a,22-32

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Psalm 16

On Ash Wednesday nearly eight weeks ago, we heard these familiar words: Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. Today, I implore you to remember also, and with the conviction of deep faith, that you are more than dust. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). By the solemn and life-giving act of God, we breathe moment by moment. As we breathe in and out, we feel ourselves alive as living and conscious beings. Even so, shall we, like Jesus on the cross, breathe our last? Yes, of course. The time is short.w

The Day of Resurrection, however, is not short. It persists forevermore as the singular reality of the Church. There is a Spirit/breath we will not lose, of which we cannot be deprived. Notice the action of the risen Lord as he appears to the disciples. “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, she showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:19-22).

The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, the Spirit of the risen Lord — he is our life. We live by him and with him and in him. Eternal life has begun. In the words of St. Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). In Christ, we are born again, born from above. In a sense, we already live supernatural lives amid the daily round of our common tasks.

Yes, we still suffer “various trials” (1 Pet. 1:6). We are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,” but the old self dies in union with Christ precisely “so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:10). By trial and testing, we “are receiving the outcome of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (1 Pet. 1:9). “We are receiving,” the apostle says — we are receiving now the outcome of our faith. Even so, there is more “to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5). We have not yet fully arrived; there is always more of Christ to know and love and worship and adore. The whole Christian life is a continuing discovery of the risen Lord.

Consider your condition as a Christian person. “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Pet. 1:8). Love and belief are gifts of God, poured into us by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love and joy. We have this gift; we possess this treasure; we are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Cast aside all fear and enter into the joy of the Lord. We have risen with him. Feel and know that this is true. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).

LOOK IT UP: John 20:29

THINK ABOUT IT: This is Jesus’ benediction over the contemporary Church.


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