Today is the birthday of the Church. On Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary. This great feast marks the end of the Easter season and commemorates the beginning of the Church’s ministry to the world.
In the 50 days following the resurrection of Jesus, the fledgling community of Christians gradually came into their own. They continued to reflect upon what the resurrected Lord was doing for them and slowly came to the realization that their ministry was not only to the Jewish community but to the whole world. On the fortieth day after Easter, Jesus ascended back to the Father with the promise that he would send the Advocate to be with his disciples. Ten days later, the Holy Spirit rushed upon the gathered community and gave them the courage to go out and proclaim the Good News.
Each of us has been empowered by that same Spirit to be ministers of the Gospel. At Confirmation, the confirmandi are confirmed by the laying on of hands and the imposition of chrism oil. They will be forever known as fully-initiated Christians, empowered to proclaim the Good News in word and action.
Like the disciples of 2000 years ago, the newly confirmed may feel fearful or unsure at first; but gradually, the Holy Spirit will challenge them to go out and witness to the greatness of God. They will be encouraged to use their particular gifts and talents for the betterment of the world and for the building up of society. Confirmation is not a graduation but a commencement. It does not mark the ending of past actions so much as it indicates a beginning of future promises and glory.
Please pray for those who will be confirmed and also for ourselves that each of us may continue to engage the Spirit in our own lives in order that we may never be afraid to witness to the presence of God in our midst.