Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Many of you present in the Basilica may have thought you were just attending the Sunday evening Mass and now you find that a Confirmation is going on. You might be wondering how long this will go on; I have to be honest – it will take a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will use this opportunity to reflect on your own Confirmation. In many people’s lives it is “the forgotten sacrament” yet it has a very important role to play in our lives of faith.
And for those of you being confirmed, I hope you will remember this day, not just because of the beauty of this Basilica of the Assumption or because of the party that you might have following Confirmation. Instead I hope you’ll remember that today and forever your soul was touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
You come from various parishes around the Archdiocese. Some of you are very young, just entering high school and some of you are, like myself, moving along in life. But we all have this in common: we need the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Caesar in Our Life
The Gospel reading we just heard helps us understand our need for Holy Spirit, where Jesus tells us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar but to give to God what belongs to God. Caesar was the Roman Emperor during Jesus’ life on earth. He was ruled much of the world back then including the territory where the Jewish people lived. Caesar put a lot of demands on the people he conquered, including heavy taxes. When asked if people should pay those taxes, Jesus didn’t get into a political fight. He answered, “Give to Caesar what is his but give to God what belongs to God.”
Caesar and the Roman Empire no longer exist. But there are a lot of “Caesars” in our lives – a lot of people in authority who demand things from us every day. Often they have a right to make demands on us though not always. Here are a few examples of the “Caesars” in our lives: If you are still in school, you have a lot of obligations – showing up for class and paying attention, doing your homework, getting good grades, and getting along with your teachers and classmates. If you are in college or graduate school, those demands are much greater. If you play sports, you have to have to show up for practice and you try your best not to let the team down. One of the worst forms “Caesar” takes in our lives is peer pressure – people around us put pressure on us to behave badly – to do sinful, self-centered things that sooner or later make us really unhappy. Those of you who get up and go to work every day – well, we’ve all had demanding bosses and tough customers. And those of you who are moms and dads and grandparents – when to the requirements of raising a family every stop?
God in Our Life
With so many demands being made on us, God can get crowded out of our lives. We might think we’re too busy to pay attention to God. Or we might think of God as someone else making a lot of rules & demands on us, but because we can’t see him and won’t meeting him for a while, we can ignore him.
The fact is, God doesn’t need or want anything. He doesn’t need an I-phone 6 or the latest sneakers or a new car. There’s only one thing he wants: and that’s our love. “All he asking for is our love”.and we might be thinking, “That’s easy! Done!” But when you really love someone, you want to give that person everything. If we really love God we’ll be grateful he gave us everything and we’ll want to give our lives to him and others in love. Sometimes, though, we’re afraid to do this and sometimes we’re unable to do it because we withhold our love from God by committing sins.
We’re here to receive the Holy Spirit because we need help in making that gift of self. All of us were baptized and all of us believe in Jesus. We received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and we have received Jesus in the Holy Communion many times. Hopefully all of you have also received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we need something more – we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit. If we’re really going to give God our love and be real followers of Jesus – if we’re really going to be practicing Catholics who bear witness to our faith – then our faith needs to be “super-charged” by the Holy Spirit. That’s what St. Paul told us in the second reading – “The Gospel did not come to you in word alone but also in power & in the Holy Spirit, and with much conviction” (1st Thess. 1:5b).
That is why we are here. By the prayer of the Church, the imposition of my hands, & the anointing with Chrism, you will receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit – his seven gifts – wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe, so that your faith will really come alive, so that you will be fully and actively a part of Christ’s Body, the Church, and that you will experience in your lives Jesus’ power over sin. This is where you get the power and freedom really to love God & those around you! So give to Caesar what rightfully belongs to Caesar but in the Holy Spirit give yourself to Jesus and he will never let you down! God bless you and keep you in His love!