This is the homily that Fr. Friederichs preached for our confirmation
Confirmation, like every sacrament, celebrates something special happening between God and the individuals receiving the sacrament. In this case, we are celebrating because these six people have chosen to leave themselves open for the Spirit of God to touch them in a way that will make it possible for them to live like Jesus. Basically, by presenting yourselves today, Nick, Rawson, Jack, Glenn, Rachel and Vincent, you are making yourself available for God to do good –and maybe even great— things in you as a follower of Jesus and a member of the Catholic Church. Because you are making yourself available that way, this is a great day for you, for the church, for our parish, and even for God. You are giving God a gift –the gift of yourselves-- today even as God gives you the gift of Jesus’ Spirit. This wonderful and personal exchange of gifts is certainly a reason to celebrate.
Our scriptures for today shed light on why we are celebrating as we are. Actually, the scriptures we just heard aren’t specially chosen for Confirmation today. They are the usual readings for this Sunday. But they are perfect for the occasion. They are perfect because they speak about three important aspects of living as a confirmed Christian.
First of all they remind us that God’s care for us is for keeps: God’s dwelling is with the human race….they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God,” the second reading tells us. In other words, God will stay with us through thick and thin, whether we feel it or not; whether we walk away or not. God is no quitter when it comes to loving us. That message is precisely what the anointing means that you will receive in a few minutes. The anointing says that you are consecrated to God and God is committed to you.
That same reading also has God saying, “Behold I make all things new.” That’s good news for us. God takes us and the events of our lives and keeps re-shaping them. God keeps picking up the pieces of our lives and uses them to keep us connected with God. In other words, God works with us to maximize our strengths and to minimize our failures. That’s something to celebrate.
Our first reading reflects the challenge of Confirmation. Leaving yourselves available to God won’t always be easy. The text says, “It is necessary to undergo hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” The words “Entering the kingdom of God” are what we might call a code “for aligning our hearts and our lives with the heart of God.” Aligning our hearts with God’s comes at a price. It involves compassion and forgiveness. It insists on reverence for each person and all of life. It requires giving God priority in our lives. It means resisting patterns and values contrary to those of Jesus. Lots of people and patterns in our world will tell us it is foolish to try to align our hearts with God’s heart. So it will require courage and commitment to live by the example of Jesus. That too is what the anointing symbolizes; the strength that only God’s spirit can give us to be strong enough to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
Our third text is the gospel. In it Jesus, couldn’t be any clearer. He tells us, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Those words, too, are a challenge. But they are also an encouragement because they make clear that he gives us his love before he asks us to give ours. In other words, his love for us will give us the strength and courage to love the way he loves. It’s a lifelong learning process, this loving as Jesus loves. Your confirmation is a key step in that process, offering you a deeper share in the Spirit of Jesus so you can love like him, more and more, with the passing each day.
This deeper share in his Spirit that you receive today is surely something to celebrate. And so celebrate we do today, as you make yourself available to the Spirit of Jesus. Today we pray with you and for you that you will keep making yourself available for the Spirit of Jesus for the rest of your lives. If you do, it will make all the difference in the world for you. In fact, it will make all the difference in the world, period!