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Bishop's Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

July 7, 2024

[St. Marianne Cope Chapel, Honolulu (with Sisters of St. Francis); Sacred Hearts Church, Lanai (Confirmation & First Communion)]

“Do your homework!”  “Turn off the video game while we are eating dinner!”  “Go to bed now, because you have to get up early in the morning for school!”  These are things we probably do not like to hear our parents say, because we are having just too much fun doing what we were doing without their interference.  But we know that they do these things not to punish us but to show us their love and care for us, so that we can grow and develop into happy and responsible people.  In a sense, we might say that your parents are being prophets, because a prophet is someone sent by God to bring us back to the right way, even when we would rather go our own way.  A prophet speaks the truth of God, whether people want to hear it or not, because he knows that living in God’s truth is the best thing for us.

We speak of the Gospel as Good News, and it is.  The fact that God loves us so much that he sent us his Son Jesus to be one of us is amazing.  More amazing is that he died to save us from our sins.  Even more amazing is that he rose from the dead and lives now and forever.  The Gospel is Good News.  But sometimes to live the Gospel fully, we need to change our ways, correct our course, and turn away from sin and destructive behaviors to follow God’s life-giving way.

Today you will receive the sacrament of Confirmation, in which the Holy Spirit will come to live in you forever, marking you and sealing you as God’s very own beloved children.  This Holy Spirit will often give you courage when you are discouraged, or give you joy when you are feeling a little downcast.  But this Holy Spirit of wisdom, understanding and counsel will also at times correct you by stinging your conscience, making you feel uncomfortable about something that can be dangerous to your spiritual life.  He may not always tell you exactly what you want to hear, because the Holy Spirit is a prophetic Spirit, who will tell you what you need to hear, whether you like it or not.  We have the example of St. Paul, who was so blessed with extraordinary revelations about God, but was also burdened by “an angel of Satan, a thorn in the flesh” who often tormented him.  God made it clear that this was actually a gift of the Holy Spirit to keep Paul from becoming too proud about his own accomplishments.  It is this same Holy Spirit that you receive today in the sacrament of Confirmation.

And it is always good to have real friends who support you when you need it, but who also challenge you to grow when they see you are going the wrong way.  Today, when you receive your First Holy Communion, the best friend you will ever have, Jesus himself, will live inside of you to give you support and comfort, but also to challenge you to grow, to turn away from hurtful practices and to develop real virtues.  You will receive him physically today and every day you receive Holy Communion, so that this dear friend can be truly present to you.  But be aware!  He will not only make you feel good about having his love for yourself, but he will challenge you to take his love to others.  Sometimes this will be by affirming them, but sometimes by being a prophet to them, telling them things they may not want to hear, but things that will truly help them.

Some people may say, “Who is this?  This is that person who grew up in our parish.  We know the parents and the siblings?  Who is this who dares to be a prophet to us?”  But that is exactly what happened to Jesus.  They rejected him, too, as people sometimes do to prophets.  But you can take comfort in knowing that it is not yourselves that you are promoting, but the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so that everyone you meet can have life in abundance in Jesus!