As part of my parish bible study class, I have a role to provide some commentary on the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday. Usually, this means basically stealing good stuff from Brant Pitre’s Sunday commentaries, other commentaries, and of course the Church Father.
So I was reading part of the Gospel reading in John 20:22-23 “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
This passage was fairly well-known to me and that it is the institution of the sacrament of confession.
“If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.” G.K. Chesterton
What I noticed for the first time was the context along with being more focused having just gone through the Triduum.
On Holy Thursday we have the institution of the new covenant priesthood. I would have assumed that then they received the fullness of what we now see as the effects of episcopal ordination.
What actually happened was that Jesus waited until he rose and for when all the Apostles were gathered together to breathe on them to be able to either retain or forgive sins. This seems pretty important to me that Jesus highlighted this sacrament with a separate action. I certainly do not have a grasp of all the implications concerning this. There are plenty of commentaries regarding the implication of Jesus breathing on them and how this relates to creation. I just have not seen discussed why Jesus broke out this sacrament from those conferred on Holy Thursday.
Or possibly I am just misunderstanding this.
Looking through Aquinas Catena Aurea, the Church Father quotes for this passage in John doesn’t mention this aspect.