Posts Tagged ‘Confirmatio’

The First Confirmation

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17; 1 Pet 3: 15-18; Jn 14: 15-21

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today we hear all about the Sacrament of Confirmation.   

First, we hear a clear description of the Sacrament in Acts.  For while Philip Baptized the Samaritans; it was clear that Peter and John recognized the need for their “Confirmation”.  Confirmation is the Sacrament in which we receive the Holy Spirit; and it is normally administered by the Bishop to large groups.   

Now at first blush, Confirmation may seem confusing because we are also taught that when we are Baptized, we are reborn in the Spirit.  So, if we receive the Spirit at Baptism, then why Confirmation?  The Church teaches that when we are Baptized, our sins are forgiven and we receive the Spirit of grace, of justice, and of Sanctification.  We become children of God and neophytes in the Church of God.   

But just as is implied in the reading from Acts; we need something more than that to navigate our way through the secular world.  Jesus says it best in the Gospel.  He says that we need another “Advocate”, and that after He leaves the world,,He will send that Advocate to those who keep his Commandments.    

Let me dwell on this part of the Gospel a bit.  We hear that the Advocate will give us the Spirit of Truth “which the World cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows it.”  This is truth in the eyes of God.  How true that the world neither sees it nor knows it.  It includes knowledge and confidence that there is life beyond life in this world.  That is something that the secular world is very skeptical about.   

It includes a welcoming sense of acceptance of God’s law in the heart.  This was the subject of Jesus’ entire three-year ministry- to instill in the Apostles the truth about God’s law- a law of love for God, neighbor, and self; not just a sense of law which meant abiding by strict precepts handed down by tradition.  It is true, of course, that many of those laws were based on God’s revelation to Moses and the prophets.  But their true meaning had been morphed to a set of black and white laws.  Compliance with the law was based on physical compliance; not necessarily on compliance in the heart.   

And it includes a sense that the most important thing for us to do in our lives, is to comply with God’s will for us, whatever that it.  The Gospel is the story of the pattern for doing this.  It is the story of Jesus Christ’s mission on earth to live his life in accordance with god’s will.   

Clearly, the Spirit of truth then, if accepted by a person, would be a Spirit of strength.  That’s because when we accept the truth and are committed to it with our hearts; then we have the inner strength to bear with whatever the world throws at us. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit accompany the Spirit of truth.  They are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge , Piety, and Fear of God.  It is easy to see inner strength in a person who has these gifts in their Faith.   

Now the word Advocate here is based on the original Greek word in the book of Acts, which is Paraclete.  It is only used 4 times in the Scriptures.  But the sense of the Greek word is “one called in as helper, pleader, defender, patron, advocate”.   

Putting this all together then, Jesus is telling his Apostles that he will send them the Spirit of Truth, God’s truth.  This Spirit of Truth would instill in them the strength that they needed to deal with the secular world and that this Spirit would be their advocate when they stood before God for judgment.  All of this equally applies to us as it did to the Apostles.   

Our second reading shows us what it is like to be a Confirmed Christian.  Peter describes a person who is always ready to be a witness for Christ.  That means they have the wisdom and knowledge of their faith that they need to defend it or explain it to others. and it means that they have the patience and the forbearance to do it in a way that is “gentle and with reverence”.  It also means that they have the fortitude to defend their faith in word and deed despite the possibility of ridicule.   

Yes, today’s readings are all about Confirmation; and what it means to be a Confirmed Christian.