21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
Gregory: The Father sent the Son, appointed Him to the work of redemption. . . . I send you to persecution, with the same love wherewith My Father loved Me, when He sent Me to My sufferings.
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Chrysostom: Having then given them confidence by His own miracles, and appealing to Him who sent Him, He uses a prayer to the Father, but of His own authority gives them power.
Augustine: That corporeal breath was not the substance of the Holy Ghost, but to show, by meet symbol, that the Holy Ghost proceeded not only from the Father, but the Son.
Gregory: Why is He first given too the disciples on earth, and afterwards sent from heaven? Because there are two commandments of love, to love God, and to love our neighbor. The spirit to love our neighbor is given on earth, the spirit to love God is given from heaven. As then love is one, and there are two commandments; so the Spirit is one, and there are two gifts of the Spirit. And the first is given by our Lord while yet upon earth, the second from heaven, because by the love of our neighbor we learn how to arrive at the love of God.
23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
Chrysostom: They who are in rule, should not be judged by those who are under them. And their incorrectness of life will not at all invalidate what they do by commission from God. For not only cannot a priest, but not even angel or archangel, do any thing of themselves; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost do all. The priest only furnishes the tongue, and the hand. For it were not just that the salvation of those who come to the Sacraments in faith, should be endangered by another’s wickedness.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).