In Father Hanly’s homily for Confirmation in Year C he tells the children, “What happened in Pentecost Sunday is something that we should talk just a little bit about, because sometimes it’s confused: you know, you think that words are going to come flying out of the sky, and fire is going to break up all around you, and all these wondrous things – no, Pentecost is full of more important things.”
(beginning missing) and you begin to look for close friends and people that you can share your dreams, your ambitions, all of these things, with. And before you know it, you’re all grown up. Before you know it, you’re like me, fifty years a priest.
Now, what happened in Pentecost Sunday is something that we should talk just a little bit about, because sometimes it’s confused: you know, you think that words are going to come flying out of the sky, and fire is going to break up all around you, and all these wondrous things.
No, Pentecost is full of more important things. What would be more important? What these things symbolise.
What is fire? Fire is light. And we say God dwells in inaccessible light. And here the light comes upon us. And, one day, Jesus says to the people, “I am the light of the world.” And they know what light means. What light means is God is with us. God with his love and his warmth, his gifts and his understanding. And we are one with Jesus. And the spirit has always been with us.
Now, the difference today is that when you’re a little child, you’re very passive. People love you, you take it. Your mother, father, take care of you, you take it. You don’t have to do anything, but take and take and take. And after a while it gets a little tiring.
Confirmation is when Jesus says to you, “OK, now I’m calling you. I’m calling you to come with me and we will go through the world together. Because you’re no longer children and I am going to teach you how to love and I am going to teach you how to care and I am going to teach you what real joy is, not on the outside, but deep in the depths of your heart. And this is what you begin today in a very special way. You begin to walk hand in hand with Jesus.
The reason we have such a lovely ceremony and anoint you with oil and seal you with the love of God is because we are praying __ to the fact that you are no longer children but you are the grown disciples of Jesus. And he loves you. And he is with you. And he will see you through difficulties, and he will see you through joys, but he will never, never leave you.
You’ll need his help. Why? Because to be an adult, and not all people, even though we grow to be adults, are not adults in our head or adults in our heart. Because the difference between a child and an adult is children take love, adults give it. Children are cared for, adults care for others. Children are comforted when they are lost and lonely, adults are like shepherds in search of the lost and lonely to comfort them.
And the more you do the adult things of the spirit, the more you will realise that Jesus is the one who is doing it, because you will go through the world showing mercy, forgiveness, compassion, bringing people together, trying to bring joy to those who sorrow, trying to bring hope to those who despair, trying to bring help to those most needy.
And you do this because, without even thinking about it, you are the eyes, the ears, the hands, the strength of Jesus, for he uses your eyes to see and your ears to hear and your hearts to love, that they might know that the world is full of the presence of God, a father who loves, a brother who stays and cares, a spirit who is there to comfort you and guide you.
And that adult life is what we do during this ceremony, but it will take a whole lifetime to fully understand it.
But at the heart of it is love. God is love. He loves you and he wants you to love each other. And that is the secret. It’s the secret of not only growing up, but experiencing the true joy of an adult for the rest of your life.
Are you ready now? Just stay right there
The first thing we do is, you already know this, you are going to renew your baptismal promises.
When you were little kids, somebody brought you in their arms, brought you to a church like this and a godparent, a sponsor, actually took your place and said yes to all the things that you yourself now are going to say yes to. Do you believe in God, do you believe in the Father, do you believe in all the wondrous things offered to you?
When you were a child, you didn’t understand it, but your godparents said all these things for you.
Now the beginning of becoming an adult is you must make those promises in which you receive the deep, quiet but lovely love of God in your hearts in a new life. You received those only because your sponsors said yes for you.
Today, we are asking you to confirm, that’s what confirmation is, confirm those promises made on your behalf so many years ago. So, I am going to ask you, now, to renew your baptismal promises. And I want to hear a nice loud voice. OK? Yes. You know what this is now? It’s very important.
My dear friends… Jesus said that, he said, “I no longer call you servants or slaves, I call you friends.”
My dear friends, I now ask you, before this community of people, do you reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises? Do you……and life everlasting.
This is our faith. This is the faith of the church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I will lay hands upon you. It’s a very ancient custom. The laying of hands is calling down the Holy Spirit upon you. It’s calling God to be with you in a very special way. And it is telling you that God calls you no longer as children but adults to go out into the world to heal it and love it and care for it in the name of Jesus our Lord.
My dear friends, in baptism God our father…
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This homily was delivered on 16th May 2010.
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