Date: Sunday, May 02, 2021
I am grateful for my part in the preparation and formation of our teens (Y-Disciple) and adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation. When teens express doubt about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, their reservation may be the personal commitment to the Church as an institution -- parts of which they do not know, or understand, or even reject. When teens and adults understand Confirmation as the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them come to know and draw closer to Jesus, they are more open to receive the Sacrament. Our Catholic faith is more than leading a morale life. Our Catholic faith entails more than memorizing the catechism. The essence of our Catholic faith, the foundation of Christianity, is a personal and communal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The setting and timing of the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to John are especially important. Jesus and his disciples are having their last supper together. Jesus, aware of what lies ahead, attempts to calm the fears of his disciple. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He explains that he must return to his heavenly Father and prepare a place for them. Jesus promises that he will comeback and “take you to myself, so where I am you also may be.” Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, as their counselor and guide. And then Jesus, using a metaphor, says: “I am the true vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
The image of the vine and branches is dear to his listeners who enjoy wine at dinner. Vines, branches, and grapes flourish on terraces in the city of Jerusalem and in the countryside. They are familiar with Biblical references to Israel as God’s vineyard. They are aware of prophetic warnings and need for pruning. In the Gospel according to St. John Jesus performs his first sign, changing water into wine, at a wedding feast in Cana. After Jesus feeds the multitude (John 6:1-15), anticipating the Last Supper when he will give his disciples bread and wine, Jesus says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (John 6: 56).”
With our teen and adult confirmation candidates, we can pray for the Gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven our Catholic faith and to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Only with and in Jesus can we truly live a moral life with compassion for others. Only in and with Jesus can we enjoy God’s indwelling, Sanctifying Grace. Only with and in Jesus can we experience God’s mercy for our sins and conversion of our hearts. Only in and with Jesus can we hope to be his disciples, to bear fruit and to glorify God.