Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Holy Spirit in Acts paid us a visit: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, April 16th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            It is fitting that we read from the Acts of the Apostles after Easter.  This book tells the story of the early Church’s formation after Jesus died, rose and ascended into heaven. 
            Acts is also known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.  Where Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the acts of Jesus, Acts features the graces of the Holy Spirit given to the Church.
            Last evening we had an outpouring of the Spirit in our own parish as our six high school students were confirmed. 
            While on the surface it looked pretty normal—there were no tongues of fire and the building wasn’t physically shaking—the graces given were astounding.  I love that…what looked like simple gestures of prayer and a sign of the cross impacted the lives of our confirmands forever.
            There are two particularly powerful moments in the Confirmation ceremony.  The first is when Bishop stretches out his hands over the group as he prays—this is the laying on of hands.  This same action is done several times in the book of Acts.  These young men and women were confirmed at the hands of Bishop Paul Sirba.  What’s really cool—Bishop had hands laid on him.  So did the bishop before him.  And the bishop before him…all the way back to Jesus Christ.  Our kids were just confirmed from a line that goes all the way back to Jesus!
            Second—the sacrament of Confirmation takes place as Bishop seals the forehead with Chrism oil—the good smelling one—and says, “N, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit…Peace be with you.”  The Chrism oil was blessed by our bishop and is the same oil that will be used in Baptisms and Confirmations this year.
            The Holy Spirit we see working so powerfully in Acts—through forgiving sins, healing, raising the dead—is the same Spirit that continues to work today!  Remember, Jesus himself said, “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit”! 
            Praise God, the young men and women who were confirmed yesterday are forever changed.  They are imbued with the Spirit.  Our parish is soaked with the Holy Spirit!  May we respond to the Spirit in our lives!

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