Saturday, May 17, 2014

Confirmed in the Spirit

There was a young boy whose family would only buy him savings bonds. While his friends were unwrapping toys at Christmas and on their birthdays, he would open envelopes with savings bonds in them. Even as he was getting older and other kids were getting computers and video games, he would get nothing but savings bonds from his parents, grandparents and uncles.

Sometimes he would cry to his parents and complain that he wanted at least once to get something he could play with. But every year it never changed. A birthday or graduation would come by and, sure enough, he got nothing but savings bonds.

Finally, when he turned eighteen years old, he decided to go to the bank and cash in all those savings bonds he had accumulated over the years. He was shocked to learn that, when it was all tallied up, he had over $30,000 coming to him. It now all made sense to him. He realized that while the gifts his friends had received had all been thrown away - they had outgrown the clothes, the video games were obsolete and the bicycles were rusted out - he had over $30,000 in cash! While it was hard to understand and accept his parents’ decision to only give him savings bonds, he could appreciate why they had done it, and he was truly grateful.

Were there ever times in your life when you felt like the young man in this story? Have you ever wondered why your parents made you go to Mass and religious education when your friends got to stay home? Have you ever wondered why your parents insisted that you receive Confirmation when other kids in your school didn’t have to? Are you wondering why you are here now?

All those feelings are natural.  When we are younger it is hard for us to see the big picture. We hate to be left out when our friends are having fun. We want the freedom that other kids seem to have.

However, today, the day of your Confirmation, you are finally getting your big payout. All those hours you spent at Mass, at religion classes and at rehearsals are finally going to pay off. Today, through the anointing with sacred chrism and the laying on of hands, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Blessed Trinity. Together with God the Father and God the Son He created the universe and keeps it in existence. This whole vast and wonderful world from the deepest ocean to the highest mountain, the furthest planet to the brightest star were all created by Him out of nothing. You and I were created by Him.

The Holy Spirit you receive tonight is the same Spirit that gave courage to the great prophets. Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and John the Baptist worked wonders by the power of the Spirit you will receive tonight. It was by that same Spirit that Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And by that Spirit Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and raised the dead. Through the power of that Spirit Jesus Himself rose from the dead after He had been crucified.

That is what you are receiving tonight - the life, the love and the power of God Himself. Through the Spirit of God, nothing will be impossible for you, because nothing is impossible with God. There is no injustice you will face that cannot be overcome by this Spirit. There is no sin or temptation that you will not be able to defeat. And there is no one you will not be able to love or forgive. Nothing will be impossible for you because you will no longer be alone. God Himself will be with you and in you.

When you consider all that, what is so great about being home, watching TV or playing video games.

This night, you will be changed forever. But it isn’t magic. It won’t happen overnight. You will have to learn to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit living within you.You will have to learn to listen for His voice. But with God’s help, step by step, the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be at work in your life in powerful and unmistakable ways.

Now it could be that none of this interests you right now. It could be that you would just as soon leave the gift you will receive tonight unopened. That is understandable. What God calls us to can sometimes scare or overwhelm us. Or sometimes we think we can make it through life without God’s help. But remember this. Although you may decide to ignore the gift, push it aside or hide it, you can never lose it. We may forget that we have been confirmed, but God will never forget. When you need His help - and you will - He will be there for you because He loves you. We can never run away from God any more than we can run away from ourselves.

Today you will be sealed with the Holy Spirit. You will permanently be marked as a daughter or son of God. It is an awesome gift that comes with a great responsibility. When we accept it and put it to good use, we can achieve great things for God and for the world. Welcome this gift, embrace it and let it take root in you. Then watch in wonder at all that God will be able to do in you and for you.

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