Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

16 June 2024

Appears in: Archdiocesan NewsMessages and Homilies

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Sacrament of Confirmation


[Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4: 26-34]

With the Edmonton Oilers the only Canadian team in the Stanley Cup finals, I have heard a lot of talk about them now being “Canada’s team”. TV ads have encouraged fans of all stripes to come together in support. In Edmonton we find that to be only natural. In other areas of the country, though, that invitation might be refused, or, if accepted, with begrudging reluctance. I’ve noticed that mixture of feelings, too, in this part of the province where I am spending the weekend. It surprised me at first, until I remembered that I am half way between Edmonton and, well, that other place. When it comes to hockey, we are a people of divided loyalties.

Unfortunately, that can also be the case in the life of faith, and that is no laughing matter. We face temptations daily that test what must be our singular loyalty to Jesus Christ, and our hearts can be pulled in different directions. This underscores the necessity of the gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out today in the sacrament of Confirmation. His mission is to unite us to Jesus Christ and keep us faithful to him. Saint Paul today reminds us that what is at stake here is eternal life, which is obviously far more important than any Stanley Cup. Jesus alone can lead us to heaven, so we must listen to him and stay faithful to whatever he teaches and asks us to do, always avoiding divided loyalties.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus is using parables about seeds to teach us how he leads us to heaven, the kingdom of God. Within our hearts he plants the seeds of faith by the Word he speaks, by the grace of the sacraments, by what our parents teach us about him, and so on. Like the tiny mustard seed that becomes a mighty shrub, Jesus wants our faith to grow from small beginnings to the full flowering of sainthood. Yet, like the seed that grows without the farmer knowing how, we do not always perceive how Jesus is bringing about that growth within us. This is where the temptation to divided loyalties can enter. We like to know what is happening; we want instant results. Our lack of understanding and impatience can cause us to latch onto visible things that the world says will make us happy now, and we can end up pledging our allegiance to them and not to Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to overcome our divided hearts and keep us faithful to our Lord.

Fidelity to Jesus also means telling others about him, as he summoned us to do. Here, too, we need the gift of the Holy Spirit. When the apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were changed and emboldened to tell the world about what God had done in the death and resurrection of Jesus. That same Holy Spirit is received in the sacrament of Confirmation for the identical purpose. This mission is urgently needed today. Our society and world are more and more divided into opposing teams. While fights might erupt on the hockey rink, much more damaging conflicts are now emerging on the earth’s surface. Just think of the wars in Ukraine, the Middle East, and parts of Africa, or the divisions that exist in our own country. Divided loyalties abound, usually with very damaging consequences. Our mission as followers of Jesus is to point to another way, the way of the Lord, whose loves breaks down hostility, heals us of sin, and reconciles peoples with one another. There is no more important mission than that, and those who are confirmed today are anointed and set apart for it.

So, to those who are to be confirmed today, I want to say “thank you” for accepting to follow Jesus as his disciples and for responding to his call to mission. Thank you as well for reminding all of us, already confirmed, of the mission we share with you. You are about to receive the most wondrous gift of God’s own Holy Spirit. Call upon his gifts daily, so that there will be no divided loyalties in your hearts, and that you will have the faith and boldness needed for the mission, which today is entrusted to you.

Most Reverend Richard W. Smith

Sacred Heart Parish and St. Mary Parish, Red Deer

June 15-16, 2024