My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Again, I want to give a special word of welcome to the candidates for Confirmation today. It is, as I said before, a great day for you as you receive the Holy Spirit in a Sacramental way.
We are entering the final days of the Easter season! It goes by quick, no? Next Sunday we celebrate our Lord’s Ascension into heaven.
And during these Sundays of Easter, in our readings during the Mass and for the whole Easter season, we hear the stories — as we read the Acts of the Apostles — the stories of the early Church.
And I think it’s beautiful that we go through all of these beautiful stories during the first years of Christianity after the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Because we can see the life of the apostles and the first Christians.
It is a beautiful time of joy in the life of the Church and we see how happy the apostles are to be spending that time with Jesus. One of the beautiful things is that we can see the apostles and the first disciples were just normal people, as we are, and it was extraordinary for them to be spending time with the Risen Christ.
And I think the reason for the Church to help us to see that is just to understand how important our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is — just as it was for the apostles.
And that’s important for us to do it during the Easter season cause we understand, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that Jesus is still risen and alive in his Church.
Jesus died for us, he rose for us, and now he walks with us. He is alive in our lives — in your life and mine; Jesus is alive in our families and parishes, in our ministries.
That’s what we are celebrating this Easter season and it is important as we go forward — out of the Easter season — that we understand and believe that this what is the reality of our own personal Christian life and the life of the Church.
So, that is the lesson that the Church wants to teach us on this final Sunday before the Ascension.
In the Gospel that we heard today, Jesus tells us:
I am going away and I will come back to you!
What a beautiful promise Jesus makes to us today. He will come back to us! And he does. We know that he comes to us in the Holy Eucharist. That he comes to us in his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity every time that we celebrate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the most beautiful and powerful way that he is present in our lives.
But Jesus is talking about something more, today. He is talking about his presence in our daily lives, his presence in the life of the Church.
Jesus is dwelling with us. We just have to know where to look — we have to know how to look.
Jesus tells us today:
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
So that is what it is. We need to learn and understand how beautiful it is and we need to try to stay really close to him.
That’s obviously our challenge because we all are distracted with so many things — in our lives, in our families, in our work, in society. But we need to find a way, as we have talked about it many times and as we know, we need to find a way to talk to Jesus and to listen to Jesus. And that’s what we call prayer.
So make time to pray every day. When your day is getting started, at the end of the day. Just a few minutes to be quiet with God, to talk to him and to listen for his voice. Just like the apostles were talking to Jesus about everything that was happening in their lives.
And we should try to keep this conversation alive in our own personal lives. And when we live this way, this life of prayer, it’s helping us to see the real meaning of our lives and the real understanding of society.
And we see that Christ is really alive in creation — in the world, in our daily lives, in the Church.
And that is what we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass, from the Book of Revelation. That beautiful vision of the Church — the new Jerusalem — coming down from heaven.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is what the Church is meant to be! The glory of God living with his people, filling the world with his light, with his mercy and love.
This is not only a vision for the future. This is a vision for the present.
We are building the Church right here, right now. This is what Jesus was teaching his apostles in those days after the Resurrection. This is what he is teaching us now.
And we, each one of us, all of us, we have the responsibility for building his Church, his Kingdom on earth. This is a message especially for all of you receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation today.
Confirmation is the sacrament of Christian duty. We are confirmed for a mission. We are confirmed to be apostles, missionary disciples — true followers of Jesus Christ.
And today we all need to have that awareness that Christ is still building his Church — and he is building his Church, again, through you and through me.
He has beautiful expectations for all of us, for each one of us. He wants us to share his mercy and love, his promise of salvation. He wants us to help people to know that God loves them and that he has a plan for their lives. And he wants us to do that through our ordinary daily activities — just by the ordinary way we live, always walking with Jesus.
That’s really what makes the difference, when we really have that personal relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And that’s why — because we have this extraordinary beautiful responsibility of building the Church this time — that’s why he gives us the gift of his Holy Spirit. That you are receiving Sacramentally today.
This is what we see in that first reading today, again from the Acts of the Apostles. We heard how the early Church totally relied on the Holy Spirit to help them understand the will of God and to build the Church.
I love those words that we heard from the apostles: It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us. Beautiful.
This is how we think with the mind of Christ, the mind of the Church. We need to pray to the Holy Spirit, we need to ask for his guidance, his inspiration, his help. Those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that are especially present to all of you receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation today.
The Holy Spirit is the one — I always tell the Confirmandi as I go for Confirmations all over the Archdiocese — that life is all about making decisions. I always say that it’s not the same to be a Laker’s fan or a Clipper’s fan. Big difference. Or a Brown’s fan, a Charger’s fan. We can go on with those — life is about decisions and the Holy Spirit is the one helping us to make the right decisions in life.
So let us pray today, especially for all of you that are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, let us pray for a renewal of the Spirit of our own confirmations, of all of us who are here — so we can continue to help Christ build his Church. Counting on the Holy Spirit who is the sanctifier, who is always there for us to make the right decisions in life.
So let’s ask Mary Our Blessed Mother for her intercession, may we always recognize the beautiful signs of Jesus being with us in our lives and the presence of the Holy Spirit as we pray today and everyday: “Come, Holy Spirit, come.”
1. Readings (6th Sunday of Easter [C]): Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ps. 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Rev. 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29.