Celebrating our Faith during COVID-19
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May 19, 2019
[Sacred Heart Church, Punahou; St. John Vianney Church, Kailua (Confirmation & First Holy Communion)]
If I came back here a year from now and met you who are receiving Confirmation and First Holy Communion today, I bet you would be bigger. You are at an age in which your bodies are growing. The clothes and shoes you are wearing today probably won’t fit you in just a year from now.
Do you know that the Body of Christ is also growing? If we come here a year from now, we should find not that it has shrunk, but that it has gotten bigger. Because Jesus is alive. He died, but he rose from the dead. And he has a Body on earth that is made up of all the people he has embraced with Baptism. But what makes this Body of Christ grow? First of all, there is an invisible force within you that gives directions to your body to grow. So it is in the Body of Christ. This invisible force is the Holy Spirit, which is going to be given to you in a special way today in the sacrament of Confirmation. But something else is needed for a body to grow, and that is good nutrition. If you did not eat in the next year, not only would you grow very little, but you would die. So the Lord gives us food and drink, so that we can grow as members of the Body of Christ, and that is the Eucharist. We put bread and wine on the altar, but once the priest prays over them, the Holy Spirit changes and transforms them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Then we are invited, as you will be for the first time today, to take the Body and Blood of Christ into yourself so that you may become more and more what you eat. And so the Body of Christ can grow.
But this Body of Christ is not meant to just be a “couch potato,” lounging around and enjoying spiritual candy. Jesus wants his Body to reach out to all the world and embrace it with his love. He wants to make all things new. If people are sick, he wants to heal them, and he does this when we pray for the sick or help them in their need. If people are lonely, Jesus wants to bring them love, but not just a spiritual kind of love. He wants us, who are members of his Body to love one another just the way he loved us. This will make his Body grow. If people are homeless, Jesus wants his Body to grow by reaching out to them with food and shelter and love, so that they can live in dignity. If people are warring with one another and putting each other down, Jesus wants his Body to bring them peace by reconciling them. He wants to “wipe every tear from their eyes,” and wants to see the day when “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,” but he needs his Body, robust and healthy to accomplish this.
We see that when Paul and Barnabas traveled around so much, it was precisely as members of the Body of Christ who had been empowered by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, that they were able to help the Body grow by adding new members in all those different places. So today, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to you in Confirmation, so that you may have within you forever the power to make all things new – not your power, but God’s! You are given food so that you may grow in communion with the risen Jesus and with the other members of his beloved Body so that we can engage in the mission Jesus entrusts to us of making his Body grow by loving one another in his glorious name.