This Sunday we have the privilege to celebrate the confirmation of nearly a dozen young adults from Cathedral parish. Through the Bishop’s laying on of hands and anointing with chrism these young people will be sealed with the Holy Spirit. They will receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they will receive full membership into the Catholic Church and they will receive the graces that they need to be adult followers of Christ.
It is fitting that we should celebrate this sacrament on Pentecost Sunday, the day when we remember the first confirmation, the moment that the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles in the upper room. When Jesus takes leave of the disciples at the Ascension, he tells them to wait in Jerusalem where he will send the power of the Father to them. Jesus very specifically says that this power will be a power to be a witness to him “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” and I would daresay even in South Dakota.
We see a remarkable difference in the lives of the Apostles between the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The disciples go from hiding in the upper room in fear to going out and proclaiming the mighty acts of God in every language and tongue. The people of Jerusalem gathered in amazement at the boldness of the disciples. The mission that Jesus preached had begun. The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost gave fuel to the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations.
The power and grace bestowed at confirmation are real. Those to be confirmed will experience a change in their person. They will be given the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. These are the gifts that are given which have the power to change the person who receives them and to change the world through their application. Countless Christians have received these gifts and used them as they lived and died as witnesses of Jesus Christ.
However it takes more than the receiving of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to change the world. Those gifts have to be put into action. As we gather this weekend we remember how the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed the world. Those at the 11am Mass will witness the coming of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, and we are all to recall that through our own confirmation we also have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This Pentecost let us ask the Holy Spirit to enter more fully into our lives, so we might share the experience of the disciples and go forth proclaiming the goodness of God to the ends of the earth.
Fr. Grant Lacey