Main Point: Jesus, to the gathered disciples, said, “Peace be with you,” and he imparts to the disciples the teaching that upon receiving the Holy Spirit sins are forgiven.
New Light: When Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” this was really a very beautiful moment of spiritual presence. I was just imagining being there, and hearing Jesus speak these words.
Truth: Peace is so descriptive of the feeling I have when I am aware of being in the presence of spirit. This feeling of peace, or as Thich Nhat Hanh would add, Being Peace, is so naturally conducive to forgiveness. To me, in such a moment, there is a wider understanding of the human condition, in which we recognize that although we are not perfect, we are reflected in the perfection of Spirit. To understand this is to bring great compassion upon oneself, and upon humankind.
Implications: Likely I read this scripture differently than most. Where the scripture says forgiveness of sins, I understand compassion for the human condition – with all its flaws and ignorance and innocence by which we separate ourselves emotionally from God. Forgiveness or compassion of this frailty comes with deep understanding of oneself as not separate from another. Whatever your sin is, that sin is also mine. With understanding, there is less need for judgment and incrimination. This deep level of understanding really leads to great compassion for all.
Problems: The literal phrase “Forgiveness of sins” continues to feel problematic for me. Forgiveness to me is not something only certain people can bestow, and it is not something that automatically wipes clean the slate of transgression. Forgiveness for me is not about telling a dark secret to someone and having it be held in utmost secrecy, however comfortable and trusting strict confidentiality might feel, because true reconcilliation involves compassionate action. Forgiveness to me is mostly about compassion – and I have felt this compassion strongly from individuals that were not motivated by these words of Jesus, though they always embody a strong presence of spirit. This generous concern motivates me to feel compassion toward myself and enables me to honestly extend this kind consideration toward others. Compassion gently invites me to higher ground as it bids me to be closer to, and in, God. This kind of compassion is from the consciousness of agape, love, perhaps divine love.