WITH ST. MARY'S
THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN EASTER
Celebrate as God's preparations for us is brought to completion.
SIXTH SUNDAY IN EASTER
As we wind down towards the end of the Easter season, there are two solemnities that we can look forward to: the celebration of the Lord’s Ascension and Pentecost. Throughout his public ministry, Christ prepared his closest disciples for every possible thing that was going to happen to them. This includes his own Resurrection and, as we hear in the readings for this last Sunday of Easter, both his ascension into Heaven and the events of Pentecost. While we are celebrating these events in the liturgical calendar, parishes throughout the world are simultaneously conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation on their faithful. As we hear today, these events are inextricably linked.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Philip has success in the promulgation of the Gospel in Samaria and the conversion of the Samaritans, who were historical enemies of the Jews. Philip brought them into the Christian life through baptism, but there’s an interesting detail here: upon hearing of their conversion, the Christians in Jerusalem send two of their most authoritative leaders, Peter and John, so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. As it is written, “they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Why was it necessary for Peter and John to then go to give them the Holy Spirit? First, this is a clear example of the sacrament of Confirmation, which is currently being conferred in this season of the liturgical year. There isn’t a set date for confirmations to be conferred because it is something that only a bishop, the head of the community, can do; as a result, our own bishop needs to travel to each parish in order to confirm its faithful. The bishop, though, also has the authority to grant this power to priests under certain circumstances, but the power itself only comes from our shepherd, the leader of our Church. The context of this sacrament is better explained in this Sunday’s Gospel, when Jesus tells his disciples that he will send down the Spirit of Truth upon them as the Advocate. In particular, this will be done after Christ will “no longer be seen by the world.” In a single moment of instruction during his public ministry, Christ prepares his followers and tells them that he will go back to his Father in the Ascension, send forth the Spirit through Pentecost, and remain with them and in them through the sacraments. With hundreds of newly-confirmed members of our Church, we have the opportunity to expand the community of those who keep Christ’s commandments, who love Christ and in turn are loved by the Father, and those who will have Christ revealed to them.\
What does it look like to be confirmed? How can we be assured that Christ remains with us and in us after his Ascension? How do we know that the Spirit has been bestowed upon us? That instruction can be found in this Sunday’s reading from the first letter of Peter, when we are told to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. If we have been receptive to the Spirit and we allow the Spirit to work and move within us, we can (as Peter tells us) always be ready to give an explanation and a defense of our faith, not as mere apologetics and most certainly not as proselytizing, but as evidence of love and truth. The Spirit will advocate for us and provide us with the message to share. This is the Spirit of Truth, and through the hands of our shepherds, He continues to make Himself known to us throughout this season.
Family activity to do at home: Starting last weekend, you may have seen more things in the church dedicated to Mary. May is the month of Mary, when we celebrate the Mother of God as our own spiritual mother. This weekend is also Mother's Day, which no doubt will be celebrated by all appreciative children for their mothers. However, it is fitting that Mother's Day lands in the month of May because it is an opportunity to express our gratitude for the Mother of God. Consider adding certain acts of devotion to Mary this month and especially on this Mother's Day. Join us for any of the rosaries being said before the Masses on the weekend at St. Mary's this month. Below, you can also find suggestions for spiritual practices in the family during the month of May.