Homily — 6th Sunday Easter MMVIII 4/27/08

Homily — 6th Sunday Easter MMVIII 4/27/08

I will give you another Advocate to be with you always.

In the First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we see a man named Philip going down to Samaria to proclaim Christ to that city. Philip was one of the “seven reputable men” whom the Apostles ordained Deacons, which we read about in last Sunday’s first reading.

And Philip seems to do an outstanding job, Baptizing whole crowds of people, casting out unclean spirits and healing the sick. But then the Reading says When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard about all this, they sent them Peter and John . . . . that they might receive the Holy Spirit. And the reading ends by saying (Peter and John) laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Philip was able to convert whole crowds of Samaritans to Christ; he was even able to cast out demons and heal the sick. But Philip was not able to give these men and women the gift of the Holy Spirit. But Peter and John are able to do so.

Philip’s inability to impart the Holy Spirit wasn’t some moral or spiritual failure on his part; it had nothing to do with his personal holiness; rather, it had everything to do with his Holy Order.

Being an ordained Deacon, Philip didn’t have the Authority or the Power to give the Holy Spirit. The Apostles Peter and John on the other hand, being Ordained Bishops, did have the Authority and the Power.

This past Thursday, Bishop Tobin came to our parish and confirmed 26 young adults from our parish, as well as 9 from Sacred Heart Parish. Like Peter and John, Bishop Tobin prayed over them and laid hands on them, and they received the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I thought today I would focus on this Sacrament of Confirmation which most of us here have received.

The teaching of our Catholic Church, from the earliest times on, is that the Sacrament of Confirmation “is necessary for the completion of Baptismal Grace.” At the same time however, the Church has also always taught that Confirmation isn’t absolutely necessary for salvation, as Baptism is. But with all the graces Confirmation imparts to a person, one would be foolish not to make every effort to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if one is eligible to and hasn’t yet.
The Catechism gives a list of at least five blessings Confirmation adds to a Baptized Christian:

1) The grace of Pentecost is given to the Confirmed Christian. As the Eucharist unites us with the disciples at Calvary and at the Last Supper, Confirmation unites us with the disciples in the Upper Room at Pentecost when tongues of fire descended upon them and they spoke the language of divine love.

2) Confirmation imparts a permanent mark or seal on the soul of the Confirmed Christian, which like the seal of Baptism remains even in the next life. Jesus speaks of this permanent seal when He says in today’s Gospel (The Father) will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot accept. . . . I will not leave you orphans.

3) In Confirmation, Jesus gives what He calls a spiritual garment: You shall be clothed with power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes to you, and you shall be my witnesses throughout the ends of the earth.

4) According to the Catechism, a passage in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 9:4) teaches that Confirmation gives “a promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.” In other words, if the end times come during our lifetime, we’ll be able to get through it much easier if we have the Sacrament of Confirmation.

5) Lastly, Confirmation gives us the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in Isaiah: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts allow us to “spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses to Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and to never be ashamed of the Cross of Christ.”

So may we appreciate the great gifts given us in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and use them to live our Catholic Faith to the fullest and to be witnesses to the Risen Christ in our world today.

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