Church projects ’17
Are you living out your mission? Are you living out your Confirmation?
When I was in seminary, I met a young woman who was studying at a Lutheran Bible college. We talked about Christ, faith, and Scripture on many occasions. One time, we were discussing the sacraments. She asked me a question that I have thought about very much since: “why did the Apostles need to be confirmed? They received the Spirit of Christ at Baptism, and you’re telling me that they received the whole Christ in the Eucharist. So, why did they need to be confirmed in the Spirit?” (Acts 2:1-11). Great question!
Truth be told, she stumped me. We were concentrating on what the sacraments do for us, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist (we spoke for almost twenty hours on the Real Presence!). But, Confirmation is one of two sacraments that are less about what they do for us and more about what they do for others through us. A quote from St. Augustine about Holy Orders (the other sacrament) clarifies this: “it was for my sake that I was baptized; it was for your sake that I was ordained”.
This has become my focus in understanding the point of Confirmation. For us, yes, the sacrament seals the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, knowledge, etc.) that we received at Baptism. But, for what reason? To go out to others. Confirmation is all about mission. At the “first Confirmation” (Acts 2:1-11, today’s first reading) which is the Catholic feast of Pentecost, the Apostles were sent out on mission by the Holy Spirit. They proclaimed the Gospel to Jews from around the world on that feast, “about three thousand persons were added that day” (Acts 2:41), and the Catholic Church began. Pentecost is the birthday of the Catholic Church (est. 33 A.D.). Happy Birthday, Church!
What occurred on Pentecost should help us in discerning our own mission. Look at the Apostles prior to that event: they were cowering in the Upper Room, keeping Jesus to themselves and afraid to share Him with others. Then, the Spirit came upon them as “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3), and they went out to proclaim the Gospel to thousands of people. So, it’s not about us! Evangelizing is not about our own abilities or courage. It’s all about the Spirit. The Spirit dominates the Acts of the Apostles, leading the Apostles and the early Church on
So, it’s not about us! Evangelizing is not about our own abilities or courage. It’s all about the Spirit. The Spirit dominates the Acts of the Apostles, leading the Apostles and the early Church on mission. The Holy Spirit continues to lead the Catholic Church through its leaders and members. For all of us confirmed Catholics, our Confirmation was our Pentecost. The Spirit confirmed (or sealed) the gifts of Baptism and sent us out on
For all of us confirmed Catholics, our Confirmation was our Pentecost. The Spirit confirmed (or sealed) the gifts of Baptism and sent us out on mission. How have we lived out our mission? How have we lived out our Confirmation? Have we gone out and proclaimed the Gospel? Or, have we kept Jesus to ourselves and been afraid to share Him with others? If we want to be faithful to our mission as Disciples of Christ, then we need to be close to the Holy Spirit and His gifts.
We are a church on a mission, and each one of us plays an important role. As we close out the Easter season and celebrate our birthday as Catholics, let us be renewed in our mission. With the help of the Holy Spirit, let us courageously and wisely proclaim the risen Christ!
May you know the peace of the risen Christ,
Fr. Pat Smith
Fr. Greg Shaffer
3401 Martin Luther King Jr. AVE, SE
Washington, DC 20032
Fr. Greg Cell: 240-463-9960
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