Pentecost and Confirmation
by Bishop Joseph C. McKinney
Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full. The Sacrament of Confirmation, as the Church teaches us in our time, is a sacrament that enables this to happen in our lives. In a certain way the grace of Pentecost brings "gusto" and sparkle to life.
The Holy Spirit is a power source for us to live life to the full. Every one of us is different and we have different capabilities and, yet, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can play a key role to enhance the lives of others as we live our own life to the full.
The Holy Spirit is God’s electricity. There are many different ways in which electricity is used. The light bulb gets bright when it is turned on. The toaster toasts bread, the iron presses clothes, the radio gives sound, the television gives pictures, the refrigerator gets cold, the fan moves air around, the pump brings water out of the ground, and the air conditioner cools the air. All of these are different ways in which electricity is used, but none work without electricity. The electricity is the same, but there are a great variety of ways in which it can be used. We are like that. When we receive the sacraments of the Church, we are connected with God, the power-source. We live life to the full. Confirmation plays a key role in helping us live with gusto!
The Church teaches that Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Through Baptism, we are incorporated as a member of the Body of Christ. We are disciples of the Lord Jesus and our life with God begins. In Confirmation that life is brought to a certain completion, a certain fullness, as we receive the Holy Spirit in a fuller way. In the Holy Eucharist we continue to be nourished by the Lord Jesus. Through our oneness with Jesus, we develop a relationship with the Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity and with one another in the Holy Communion of God’s people.
Confirmation is centered primarily in the significance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit comes in a new and fuller way. We first receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism. At that time the Holy Spirit comes in order that we might be sanctified, made holy, be one of God’s people, be open to receive God’s blessings and God’s help. In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit comes in a new and fuller way to enable us to be witnesses to Jesus in word and in deed and, thus, become Kingdom builders. It is like sex. The ability to reproduce members of the human race is latent in birth but, as we reach puberty, the power of sex emerges. We can cooperate with another human being in bringing forth another person. In a certain way Confirmation relates to Baptism in that way. It brings to completion what was already started in Baptism. is centered in enabling us to be builders of God’s Kingdom. This is why the Church talks about Confirmation as a sacrament that perpetuates the grace of Pentecost.
This grace not only makes us Christ-like, it also integrates us more fully into the Church. God’s people are a wonderful "we" and each of us count ourselves as one of the "we. " The great commission of Jesus was to all his disciples. They as "we" do greater things than Jesus did. It is in the Church that we offer Mass at least weekly; it is in the Church that we receive forgiveness of sins; it is in the Church that we contribute time, talent, and treasure to build up the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit compels us to find our special service in the Church. The decision to accept the Holy Spirit is a decision to live out our life in the Church. That Church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners. The Holy Spirit helps turn us from sinners into saints. However, if we just drift through life without responding to the Holy Spirit, we will live in sin rather than grow in goodness that the Spirit brings. Notice that those people who are full of courage and joy are those who know how to be plugged into the electricity of the Holy Spirit.
Accept the power of Pentecost and become a living saint and help build God's Kingdom. Living saints are those who, because they are plugged into the Holy Spirit, live life to the full with gusto while basking in and spreading God's love. Living saints are those who, because they are one with God, can be powerful in making this world a better place. When it comes to building God's Kingdom, the Holy Spirit enables living saints to be a part of the construction crew.