The first thing that sees is the nose
The nose is the most external part of the face. It is the first part that comes into contact with the world and with things. The nose breathes air and the world. The nose smells odors, and through the nose good and bad smells arrive in the brain. It smells the heavy air in a closed room or the fresh air of a wooded area. The nose can inhales deeply or it can breathe in a shallow way, the nose expires slowly, it blows, snorts, pants. The nose makes first contact with the external world, it sniffs life, foods, clothing, the environment, persons, things. The nose gets stuffed, it is susceptible to allergies, it becomes filled with impurities, but it can be cleaned and it is important to keep it clean.
The physical nose is a stupendous exemplification of the spirtual nose which is furnished to our soul.
The nose of the soul is the mind, our way of thinking. It is our interior mental nose that receives life, filters it, senses it; it feels anger, it breathes unexpected happenings, it pants, snorts, or breathes in a relaxed way. When our nose snorts indicating that something or someone has bothered us this is preceeded by a snorting of the soul, of our interior dialogue. Our soul breathes life through the way we think. The mind becomes polluted, suffers from allergies, fears, sweats, and it becomes encrusted with prejudices and fears. It becomes shrunk due to traumas and humiliations, it becomes allergic as a result of violence and obligations that it has been forced to endure. The breathing preferred by the mind is not the present; it is always the past or the future. The present is not very pleasing to the brain’s nose, it prefers to run away to breathe the past or the future. That is why it often lives in deception. The mind tightens its nostrils under the weight of ignorance and thus finds it difficult to breathe the innovations of life and of God.
The mind which is perpetually bothered fumes, the mind that is perpetually in contemplation of itself has a runny nose, it must continually go back to itself with a handkerchief of vanity and of prestige. The mind that is always busy is short-winded, the one that is filled with bad thoughts is always flushed and infected. The one that no longer wants to feel life is full of anger and phlegm to the point of not being able to breathe. The mind is the nose of the soul. The mind breathes the same way the soul lives.
The mind of the apostles is closed in fear, closed and locked up like the doors of the place where they were hiding for fear of the Jewish leaders. Closed and locked by sins, by reciprocal daily incomprehensions.
Jesus enters even if the doors are locked, he does not wait for you to stop being afraid to enter, if he did he would never enter. Jesus’ greeting is “Peace be with you.” And he repeats it, he repeats it because the nose is full of phelm, the soul does not hear, the mind is closed. If the nose is closed, life does not enter, the World remains outside, the Word remains mute. So Jesus does something that is supreme, extraordinary, sublime: He repeats God’s oldest gesture, the first gesture towards his creature. Jesus literally breathed on them. He breathed the Holy Spirit. “To breathe” is a unique word in the Gospel and in the Old Testament it can be found twice: when God creates man breathing into him his vital breath and when he makes his arid bones rise up. To breathe Spirit inside the nostrils was the gesture of life and now it is a gesture of resurrection. The Spirit must open the nose, the mind the corridors of the soul. The Spirit enters the nose and purifies the way the apostles thought so Jesus and his Peace could finally enter ino the hearts of his children.
And Jesus can do nothing else but to blow forgiveness, forgiveness of sins, of hardness, of deposits of non-faith, of anger, of spite, of sin in short.
Jesus breathed delicately, but firmly into the noses of his apostles. What a gesture! What power! What grace! What immagination! What wisdom!
If God does not purify the nose-mind of his followers he will not be able to enter into their hearts. If he does not help us to purify our way of thinking, our interior dialogue, he will not be able to let us taste the grace, the aroma, and the sublime taste of his peace.
That gift is also the first gift that he gives to his Church for God’s children. The Church in his apostles has the power from Jesus to forgive sins and through absolution to blow the Holy Spirit once again inside the spiritual nose of men who ask for forgiveness, who want to renew their hearts and their lives.
But every nose worth anything has two holes and every breath is made up of two parts, just as every act of forgiveness has two ways and two movements: forgiveness that one asks of God and of one brothers, forgiveness that is offered to whoever may have hurt us.
And this is the gift of Peace that Jesus offers his disciples on the day of the insufflation of the Spirit inside the nostrils of his people.