As a priest there are many interesting things I get to do, saying Mass, hearing confessions, visiting Marian, coaching the golf team, etc. But, one of my favorites is teaching at St. Matt's school. Every Thursday at 8:00 I get to teach the 7th grade. One of the things I do is to help them prepare for confirmation. I really enjoy this work of preparing people for confirmation because every year I get the chance to reflect on my own confirmation, which is a sacrament that we probably don't spend much time thinking about.
But maybe today, Pentecost, is a good day for all of us to reflect a bit upon the great gift of the Holy Spirit that we received at our own confirmation. If you think about it, the sacrament of confirmation is for us the event of Pentecost in our own lives. Those of us who are confirmed already have received the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit may not have come upon us in the form of tongues of fire, without question, the Spirit certainly came upon us.
And just as an aside, if there are any adults here who for whatever reason were not confirmed, you might be interested to know that every year there is an adult confirmation here at the Cathedral, I would greatly recommend that you contact the rectory about being confirmed next year if you haven't received this important sacrament. And confirmation is an important sacrament, it is Pentecost in the life of every believer since the time of Jesus. So, if we reflect a bit on the event of Pentecost we will gain an insight into the gift of the Holy Spirit we received at confirmation.
First, notice the state of the Apostles at the time before the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the gospel we hear that they were locked in the upper room out of fear. In this part of John's gospel, Mary Magdalene had already told the disciples that Jesus was alive, but they hadn't seen him for themselves. I don't know about you, but this gives me comfort: it is ok to have some fears, doubts, and anxieties about the faith, it happened to the Apostles! What is it that takes away fear? Jesus says: Receive the Holy Spirit. My friends, we received the same Holy Spirit on the day of our confirmation. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that will confirm our faith, make it strong, give us the courage to believe in Christ. The first movement of the Spirit is to take away our fears and to firm up our faith. But, the Holy Spirit is not simply inward looking, the Spirit looks to take us out into the world.
After the Spirit comes upon the Apostles they go out and proclaim the Good News. The gift of the Holy Spirit is so powerful that it cannot stay bottled up inside one person. When we receive the gift of the Spirit, when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, it drives us to share this gift with others. Notice it says that those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit were able to speak in tongues. You might ask: why doesn't that happen anymore? It does: the Church can speak in all the tongues and languages of the earth because there are those who have received the Holy Spirit in all countries, everywhere across the world. You too are called to speak in tongues, because there are people in the world who will only listen to you, maybe not simply by what you say, but also by what you do. There are people out there who are starving for Christ and will find him through you. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, because without the Holy Spirit there would be no Church, and there would be no mass. It is the Spirit that brings us together today, it is the Spirit that breathed into the authors of the Sacred Scripture we read together at Mass, it is by the Power of the Holy Spirit that bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, it is the Spirit that fills us here at Holy Mass, but it is also the Spirit that accompanies us when we leave this Mass. Just like those first disciples, when we leave this Holy Mass we are empowered by God to carry forth the Good News to the entire world.