My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today’s a very special day because we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is a very special day for each one of you receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and for your sponsors, your family and our Cathedral parish. So it is indeed a beautiful moment in the life of the Church.
Today, we celebrate when our Catholic Church was born, when she received the promise of his Holy Spirit!
So this morning, as we get ready to celebrate the beautiful Sacrament of Confirmation, we want to ask our heavenly Father to renew the gifts of his Holy Spirit in each of us and in our whole Church. We want to ask Jesus to renew us with the fire of his divine love.
Jesus once said that he came to cast fire on earth.2 And that fire was started at the first Pentecost.
As we hear in our first reading today, the Spirit came down upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles in tongues of fire. And they all began proclaiming — in every language of the earth — the mighty works of God.
Pentecost reveals the universal mission of the Church. As I’m sure you noticed, on the first Pentecost there were people gathered from every nation under heaven. And everyone that was there that day heard the apostles’ preaching in his native language.
That’s a sign of the Church’s mission. That’s what “Catholic” means. It means universal, global. We are called to proclaim the Gospel to every nation. We are called to help God, to work with God. To help him create — from out of the world’s many peoples — one single family of God.
But the Church’s mission, my dear brothers and sisters, is our mission. The fire that started at Pentecost is meant to keep burning in us! We are called to continue the work of Pentecost in our society. We are called to proclaim the mighty works of God — his salvation and the good news —to every one we meet. Just as Mary and the apostles did at the first Pentecost.
And this has a special meaning for each one of you, who are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation today. Because Confirmation is the sacrament of Christian mission. We can say, that confirmation makes us apostles of Jesus Christ.
In the second reading of today’s Mass, we heard the beautiful words of St. Paul about the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. We heard him say:
To each individual that manifestation is given for some benefit.
This is what Confirmation does! The Spirit is given to you today for some benefit. Not just for ourselves but also is call to each one of us that bring that benefit that we have received to the people around us. So God has a mission for you. Today you a receive the gifts of his Holy Spirit so that you can actively participate in the mission of the Church. The mission of Pentecost.
And for all of us here this morning — we are called to renew these spiritual gifts that we received in our Baptism and Confirmation. All of us received his Spirit for some benefit. He gives to each one of us a personal calling, a specific mission.
And we hear that today in our passage of the Gospel. Because the words that Jesus speaks to his apostles are also spoken to each of us: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Jesus is sending us out into the world. He is sending us out into our homes, the places where we work, our neighborhoods. Everywhere. He wants us to redeem this world — one heart at a time. He wants us to help our loved ones and the people we meet every day. He wants us to help them go to heaven. He wants us to discover to them the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, his person. He wants us to help people have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the same encounter that we have experienced in our own lives.
Jesus sends us out as messengers of his peace and forgiveness. He sends us to tell everyone the good news of God’s mercy and love. We need to tell them that in Jesus, they can know salvation through the forgiveness of sins.
My dear brothers and sisters, if there is a message that our world needs, it is the message of forgiveness. So many of our brothers and sisters drift away from God. We need to help them come back home. We need to reconcile them with God and with his Church.
That’s why, as we hear in our Gospel today, the gift of the Spirit to the apostles includes to power to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Whose sins you forgive, Jesus tells the apostles, are forgiven them!
This is one of the most beautiful promises in all of the Gospel. So we need, my brothers and sisters, to try to be people of peace and reconciliation. In our words and deeds, we need to be always trying to open the doors of heaven to everyone. We need to invite people back to Church, back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Back to us for forgiveness and receive forgiveness from God.
This is our beautiful Pentecost mission.
And to carry out this mission, we need to have a deeper, more personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. That what today is so special for each one of you, because you are receiving the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom, knowledge, good judgement, each one of them is going to help you to become good apostles of Jesus Christ.
We all need to intensify our relationship with the Holy Spirit, cause it’s always talking to us. We need to listen and we need to follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, as we all know.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us try to really live Pentecost like those first apostles did. They went out and started teaching the Gospels, everything was clear for them. They went all over the world, that’s what we are called to do too.
Let us try to live by the Spirit and follow the Spirit. Let us try to look for new ways to share the fruits of the Spirit with people around us —love, joy and peace; patience, kindness and generosity; faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The beautiful fruits of the Holy Spirit that you are also receiving today in a special way.
So we want all of you to always be very kind and patient with everybody else. But we do need to live by those gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, that’s what we are called to do.
So let’s pray as the apostles did, with his mother Mary, she was there on Pentecost. Mary, Our Blessed Mother, she’s here always, but especially today for each one of you receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Let us ask her for her intercession, that there will be a new Pentecost in our days. So that the fire of love in our hearts may inspire others — until the whole world is on fire with the love of God.
Our Lady of the Angels, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
1. Readings (Feast of Pentecost, Year C): Acts 2:1-11; Ps. 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.
2. Luke 12:39.