“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.’” John 20:19-23
In the Gospel of Saint John, the point when the glorified Jesus appears to the disciples and breathes the Holy Spirit onto them is equivalent to Pentecost in Saint Luke’s second book, the Acts of the Apostles.
“God’s plan of salvation for the world had been fulfilled, but it was God’s will that we should participate in the divine nature of the Word, leaving our old saying of life behind to enter into a new and holy life. This transformation could be brought about only through the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentarium in Ioannem, 10)
The commission that our Lord gives the apostles can be seen as a parallel to that recorded at the end of Saint Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 28:18ff), since it shows the divine origin of the Church’s mission and her authority to forgive sins.
“The Lord then especially instituted the Sacrament of Penance when, after being risen from the dead, he breathed upon his disciples and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ The consensus of all the Fathers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after Baptism” (Council of Trent, De Paenitentia, chap. 1).
This is the birthday of the church and we have come together in communion with God. We are summoned by the Holy Spirit to continue in spreading the good news.
We have to accept the gift and bring back to God what is due him. If we believe the existence of the Advocate then we have no fear but to animate ourselves in union with God.
Remember, the Apostles of Jesus were afraid of preaching the Gospel. However, when the Holy Spirit dwells in them they received power that transcends to each one of them. It happened two thousand years ago and to this date we have the same Spirit of God that guides us in our journey.