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Bishop's Homily for the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

June 9, 2024

[Saints Peter & Paul Church, Honolulu (Confirmation & First Communion)]

Did you ever have the experience of hearing spooky stories at night?  We tend not to sleep very well, tossing and turning, thinking that terrible things could happen to us.  Maybe we would rather not be alone and want the protection of someone else, just in case we become one of the characters in a spooky story.  Sometimes this is just in our imagination, and we eventually realize there is no real threat to us.  But sometimes there really is a person who is out to get us, who would like to take away our peace and our confidence in God, and that person is Satan.  He was there at the beginning of creation, when he tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God.  He was there in the lives of some of the people Jesus met, and Jesus cast out these demons from them.  They led people to do sinful and terrible things, and they were a fright to all around them.  But Jesus had the power to cast them out.  Even then, Satan, in his very tricky ways, was there to cause others to accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, or Satan, the Master of demons.  This was the argument Jesus had with these people.

In a moment, you who are going to be confirmed will renew your baptismal promises in which you dare to say that you renounce Satan, and all his works and empty promises.  That’s a very bold thing to do, when you think about it.  But you can do it with confidence because of what will happen to you soon thereafter.  You will be anointed with the Holy Spirit, who is more powerful than any other unholy spirit.  God himself will mark you with the seal of the Holy Spirit, so that demons will know they have no ultimate power over you.  They will still try to tempt you and persuade you to do wrong, but if you remember that you are possessed by the Holy Spirit, those ugly and nasty spirits will flee.  Even if Mom and Dad are not around to protect you, even if the darkness is scary, you need not be afraid, because the Holy Spirit of God will be in you forever.

Then something else will happen to many of you today that will also protect you from whatever may scare or frighten you.  We will take bread and wine, bless them, break them, and today give them to you in your First Holy Communion, so that Jesus himself can live in you.  The same Jesus who cast out demons long ago and freed people from their grasp will be physically present to us, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  And he will not only stay on the altar, he will enter you, so that wherever you go, Jesus can go as well.  He will live in your home and help you to become a more loving family member.  He will go to your school, or to your sports team, or wherever you go, because he will allow you to take into yourself today his Body and Blood.  This is all the more reason to be bold in renouncing Satan, because Jesus, who is in you, will cast him out, just as he did so long ago.

You will become the flesh and blood of Jesus, who will call you his mother, and brothers, and sisters!  You will be able to do many of the things that Jesus did, because Jesus will be in you and make you one with him.  Yes, that scary snake that is Satan will still try to strike you in the heel, but Jesus, who is in you, can stomp him into submission.  Scary stories need no longer keep you awake or anxious, because Jesus, who is in you, can deal with this threat in short order.

And once you have been blessed with these wonderful gifts of God-with-us, you will be sent out, like the early disciples of Jesus, to share the good news with others.  But you must come back every Sunday to be renewed in this loving protection of the Lord.  Jesus longs to be with you and wants each one of us to be with him in the most intimate and holy communion, so that we may no longer be afraid of any spooky story.