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Bishop's Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 14, 2023

[St. Philomena Church, Honolulu (Confirmation & First Communion)]

I remember when I was about 10 years old, walking back from school alone.  (In those days, 10 year-olds walking alone was not an unusual thing!)  Some bigger boys were bullying me, and one spat on me.  When I arrived home and told my father, he put me in the car, found the boys and gave them such a scolding that they must have thought twice before bullying anyone else.  My father was my advocate.

I recall having to make a very difficult decision that I knew would bring me a lot of criticism.  I told a good friend about my struggle with the decision, and he encouraged me to do the right thing, even if it was going to be difficult.  He was my advocate.

I remember many times hearing the confession of someone who was struggling, and I said something that really made a difference to them; an insight that surprised them.  In those cases, what I said surprised me, too, and I said to myself, “Where did that come from?”  I know it came from the Holy Spirit, who gave me just the right thing to say.  The Holy Spirit was my Advocate.

We have many decisions to make in life, some easy, some very difficult.  Sometimes we need guidance or someone who can “go to bat” for us, inspiring us to do the right thing.  That, Jesus teaches us, is the Holy Spirit.  This is the gift that you are going to receive today in a special way in Confirmation, as you are sealed, marked, kissed by the Holy Spirit when I anoint you with the Sacred Chrism.  I am not going to say that you will never again be confused or conflicted about a decision, but if you pay attention to this person who is now living in you, the Holy Spirit will guide you with wisdom, understanding, and courage.  He will be your Advocate and will enable you to say and do things you could not imagine doing on your own.

Maybe he will lead you to stand up for someone else who is being bullied, or to say just the right word to a friend who is confused or afraid.  Maybe the Holy Spirit will inspire you to say a word that will heal someone’s heart from pain and grief.  You are receiving him today as a gift, so now you need to be aware of that gift and let him enlighten you, lead you, and guide you.

But the Holy Spirit will be doing more than entering you today in the sacrament of Confirmation.  This is the same Holy Spirit who enabled our Mother Mary to conceive Jesus without a man being involved in the process.  In a moment, I will call down that Holy Spirit to do another miracle:  to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.  What is on the altar will no longer be bread and wine, but the living presence of the risen Jesus himself.  And Jesus will not just stay on the altar, but today he will allow you to eat his flesh and drink his blood, so that he can be in you in the most intimate Holy Communion.  And once Jesus is in you, then he can live in your home, at your school, in your sports team or dance class.  He can continue to do the work he began so long ago by living in the world through us who are members of his Body.  The Holy Spirit will draw us together into one, so that we can make a huge difference together, not because of our own gifts and talents, but because of Christ who dwells in us.  This is why it is so important that we come here every Sunday to renew this great love Jesus has for us by wanting to dwell in us.

Once we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gift of Jesus himself, God alone knows how much we will be able to accomplish.  Through their power, perhaps one day we will be able to eliminate poverty, hatred and war.  Through their power we will be able to pray for the sick, and the Lord will heal them.  We will be able to cast out the demons of untruth, of selfishness, and of hopelessness, because we will be speaking in the name of the God who dwells within us.

We often have no idea what wonderful gifts we receive in these sacraments, but if we reflect upon them every day in our prayer and in our worship, God can use us to renew the face of the earth!