Third Sunday of Easter – Year A
Mass of Confirmation
[Acts 2:14, 22b-28; Psalm 16; 1Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35]
I’ve noticed quite a number of paparazzi moving about the church before mass. That’s because you, who are about to be confirmed, are the centre of attention today, and real stars in the eyes of those who love you and are very proud of you. Rightly so. You have been preparing for a while to receive Confirmation, and now are freely choosing to take this decisive step in your life of Christian faith. The passages we have heard from Sacred Scripture at this mass help us appreciate what this moment means for you. To understand what they are saying, let me share with you what I have often encountered when I visit our schools.
When I do get the opportunity to visit a school, there is usually an opportunity for me to meet with students, including those who are your age. I ask how things are in your lives or in those of your friends. I receive a variety of answers, but there is one in particular that is actually quite common. Students will speak about themselves or their friends experiencing anxiety or sadness. A lot of that is associated with feeling alone or lonely, especially because of the need to deal with a wide range of pressures, such as, for example, from social media.
It is very important to speak about these things with one another so that we find support. But most important of all is to speak with Jesus. Sharing our hearts with him, and above all hearing what he has to say to us, leads us from sadness to gladness, from worry to peace, from despair to hope. The privileged place we hear Jesus speak to us is, of course, in the Gospels.
For this mass, we have a passage from the Gospel of Saint Luke. Notice how it describes two of Jesus’s disciples. It tells us that they are very sad. Right away, then, we see a connection between them and ourselves in our experience of sadness. Let’s pay close attention, then, to how this story unfolds, because in what Jesus does for the disciples, we shall discover what he wants to do for us.
First of all, they are sad because they think Jesus is dead. They know he was crucified, but they have not yet heard the good news of his resurrection. In other words, their sadness arises because they do not yet fully understand Jesus and what he can do. It is the same with us. If we forget Jesus, if we focus more on the things that trouble us than on the love of Jesus and what he can do for us, we, like those disciples long ago, will be filled with sadness.
What did Jesus do for them? First of all, he showed up and walked with them. He invited them to tell him what was on their minds, what was troubling them. Then he began to help them understand him, by explaining all that the Sacred Scriptures said about him and his mission. After that, he enabled them to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. As all this was happening, there was a wonderful change taking place in their hearts. No longer were they sad, but instead were filled with joy and excitement. The message of Easter is that Jesus does the same for us. He is risen. He is alive. He remains present with us, walking with us along the paths of our lives. He wants us to pour out our hearts to him in prayer, to tell him everything that we are going through. Then he wants us to know him, because the more we know Jesus and his love for us, the more our hearts will be changed, too. Above all, he wants us to meet him here in the Eucharist. This is the place where Jesus now breaks bread with his disciples, as he did with those two early disciples long ago. Here in the Eucharist, he reveals himself to us in the transformed bread and wine. We know that it is he; we know that he is with us.
The final thing to notice in the Gospel account is what those two disciples did after they realized Jesus was alive and with them. They ran to tell others. That is what we are called to do as well. There is a great deal of sadness and anxiety in the world today, particularly among young people. Our mission as a Christian people is to share the good news with others that Jesus is risen, he is with us, he has the power to change our lives if we but follow and listen to him. We invite people to come to know Jesus and live from his love so that they need no longer be afraid but can live instead in real hope.
In order that we can fulfill this mission, Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation. With the bestowal of the Spirit we receive seven special gifts that enable us to live the Christian life and share the good news of Jesus with others: wisdom, to guide our lives according to the Lord’s teaching; understanding, for insight into the mystery of Jesus and of ourselves; counsel, by which Jesus directs our lives according to his plan for us; fortitude, or courage to remain faithful to Jesus in all things, especially when people don’t accept us; knowledge, to make good judgments about right action; piety, or inner desire to worship God and make prayer the foundation of our lives; and “fear of the Lord”, or deep reverence for God and readiness to follow His will in all things. It is no wonder people are taking pictures today! You are receiving an exciting and life-long mission: to share with others the joy you have found in knowing, loving, and following the Lord Jesus.
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith
St. Anthony Parish, Lloydminster
April 23, 2023