The seventh Lenten reflection by Fr. Ante Vuckovic, OFM – The Guilt of the Sin Taken Away

date: 01.04.2021.

''At the several places in the New Testament we find texts that speak about forgiving and retaining sins. If we open John’s Gospel, at the very end, immediately after the Resurrection, we find the text that speaks about how Jesus, on the first day in the week – the day of Resurrection, came to His disciples, greeted them by saying „Peace be with you“, and then – as John says – 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 20:22-23)''. This is how Fr. Ante Vučković started his reflection and then explained that we have “two ways of treating other people’s faults, omissions and their sins”.

''We can forgive them and we can retain them. Of course, we know that this has to do with one very important sacrament – confession, but perhaps we can draw attention to what we people do in our daily relationships, regardless of whether it is up to us to give absolution in confession, if we are priests, or if we as faithful rely to the Word of God given to us'', said Fr. Ante and added that ''this word took place in the moment when disciples of Jesus were behind the closed doors.”

''They were closed as they were afraid. The fear prevailed over them; this was the fear of being accused that they belonged to the one who was killed. This was the fear of the missing body that troubled Mary of Magdala on that morning. This was the fear of the empty grave and that is why they were closed in a room. This symbolically represents the soul that is closed, deprived of joy, the soul does not have the purpose of life, does not have mission, that is in the world that seems like a grave to it. It is very interesting that this description of alive men who were closed, would be broken by the One who came out of the grave and whose grave remained empty. Jesus penetrated in the closed world of His disciples; he opens that closed world from within. He would show them His side, He would show them His wounds and greet them by saying „Shalom“. He was crucified, He was killed, but He rose from the grave. His disciples were thrilled at that. For them, the encounter with the Risen Lord was the moment when they understood the transformation, when they really understood that something very important happened exactly because their Master was transformed in the greatest possible way. Then we have the moment when Jesus breathed in them. This reminds us to the breath that God breathed on the first man, the breath of life, his breath and man became the „living being“, as it says in the Book of Genesis. (Gen 2:7b) This is the new breath, the new creature, for Risen Jesus is the new creature, new creature starts with Him. This breath at the same time is God’s Spirit – they received the Holy Spirit so they would be able to forgive sins'', explained Fr. Ante Vučković, who spoke afterwards on forgiving sins, guilt and the words of Jesus „the truth will set you free“ (John 8:32)…

He emphasised that this text that speaks on Jesus’ coming is so important for the disciples.

''It is about the encounter with the Risen One, allowing Him to take away the guilt of the sin, trust Him, forgive others, said Fr. Ante Vučković, speaking about our everyday lives and encounters with people ''who place bondages of guilt on one another, we can feel as the life is really in bondages there, as those people are enslaved''.

''The slavery is spiritual, yet it is evident everywhere in their lives. When we encounter only one person whose guilt was taken away, we notice this person is capable of setting others free too. We can set others free from our lives even though they might have done grave transgressions to us, we can make those people free. Only the one whose guilt was taken away is capable of setting others free, too. This important encounter with the Risen One, with the living God who breaths in us and makes us capable to set others free, not to place them in bondages. This is what shows us what lies within our human abilities, in our words, in our gestures, in our relationships. Perhaps it is possible to experience the strength to release one another from our addictions, our guilts, to remove burdens from one another, all after the encounter with the Word of God and His mercy revealed to us in His sacraments'', said Fr. Ante Vučković in conclusion of his reflection. The entire reflection, accompanied by Gregorian chants performed by Fr.Zvonimir Pavičić, you can listen HERE.