In John 20:19-31 Jesus sends forth His disciples into the world. So He also sends us.
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.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Three times in this reading, Jesus greets the disciples with, “Peace be with you.” The first time is when He first enters the room. The third time is when He enters the room for the second time. But the second instance is when Jesus sends the disciples out into the world with, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Now, often this reading is used to tell the story of Thomas, the doubter. But just as important is the story of Jesus sending forth the disciples to spread the Good News and continue His good works. Right after He sends them forth, He also gives them the authority to forgive sins in His name.
A couple of things are noteworthy for us.
First, Jesus bids us peace as well as He did His immediate faithful.
Second, Jesus sends us out into the world to continue His good works and spread the Good News. We don’t have to be ordained priests or pastors or preachers or ministers to do this. But as members of His faithful flock, we should accept His command to take our faith beyond our personal belief and share it with others. And that doesn’t have to mean being in other people’s faces with it. Sharing by example to the glory of God, taking no credit for the good works we do can be a form of evangelization.
Third, while we don’t have the authority to forgive sins as the clergy do, we do have the authority to forgive one another in our personal lives, in the way of “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We should always be eager to forgive those who slight us or hurt us or anger us. Jesus has given us examples in the Gospels. Jesus forgave from the cross; can we not forgive the less grievous acts against us?
Jesus sends us forth into the world, his faithful. We are to do acts of goodness, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and love. For God so loved the world He sent his only beloved son, and then His only beloved son sent us. Go forth.