The Greek words speak to us of creation and freedom.
The Gospel for this Pentecost Sunday is John 20:19–23 or John 15:26–27; 16:12–15
1. God is like the wind
The Holy Spirit is an unknown God, as Pope Francis has reminded us. He may seem to be like the wind. We don’t see the wind. We don’t see the Holy Spirit, but He is present and working. Without Him, a Christian cannot live, he cannot breathe the life of God. The Holy Spirit is near and works very concretely, especially in the Holy Sacraments.
Jesus 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.” (Jn 20:22–23) —
Jesus breathed on the apostles. The same Greek word “emphusao” appears in the figurative narrative of man’s creation, when God breathed (emphusao) the breath of life into the nostrils of the man He had made from the dust of the ground. This means that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, man becomes a new creation. Through the sacrament of the forgiveness of sins, man becomes a new creature. God gives him new life because he breathes his Spirit into him again. The sacrament of confession is a sacrament of freedom.
Whose sins you retain … The Greek word “krateo” used here means to remain in prison. Someone who does not benefit from the sacrament of the forgiveness of sins remains in prison, in the cage of his own sin. The Holy Spirit frees man from the cage of imprisonment.
The Cenacle, where the Holy Spirit was sent and the Apostles received the gift of tongues, is the antithesis of the tower of Babel. When the tower of Babel was built, the people were proud, so God confused their languages. The Cenacle is a symbol of the people’s return to the Lord God. The Apostles spoke in different languages so that everyone could hear the Good News of Salvation.
The Holy Spirit is constantly at work, today as well. He wants to give each of us His gifts and give us freedom. All Catholics have to go and receive the sacrament of forgiveness, at least once a year during the Easter season, so that they can experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Many saints knew how precious this gift was to man and received Confession regularly — on a monthly basis, and some did so even weekly.
The Holy Spirit is invoked in the sacrament of reconciliation to give us forgiveness and freedom from sin. Before confession, it is good to ask the Holy Spirit to show us our weakness, because the Holy Spirit leads us to the truth. However, He does not leave us alone with the difficult truth of our sin. He also shows us God’s power and love, and He leads us out into freedom. That is why it is so important to come to the sacrament of confession. What is the sacrament of reconciliation for me?