Diocese of Brooklyn
As I read over the Gospel of the day, I began to think back to the day I was confirmed. I can still remember my Confirmation. I was in the 8th grade at St. Sylvester’s City Line. I was a little annoyed that my 7th grade cousin was being confirmed at the same time but, in those days, Bishops were not as available as they are today – the Bishop only came once every two years so we were confirmed two grades at a time with one sponsor for all the boys and another for the girls. I remember marching down that aisle with my head held high. We had been taught that we were about to become “soldiers in the army of Christ” and that as long as we stayed true to our Confirmation promises, nothing would ever be able to separate us from God’s love and protection.
That love and protection are at the heart of the Gospel today. He tells his disciples that they will be expelled from synagogues by those who believe that killing them is giving worship to God. Their sustenance will be the protection of the Spirit and the promise of heaven as a reward for fidelity. How necessary that message is today! When I think of the many places in the world where faith is met with violence and worship is considered criminal by some who claim to be fighting in the name of God, the urgency of the Gospel takes new meaning and I become frightened, frightened because the realities of which Jesus cautions His disciples can and do take place in the here and now. And I wonder where the fervor of being a soldier in the army of Christ has gone. And I wonder if I would have the courage to die for my faith. And I wonder if I could open my heart to the protection of the Spirit and the promise of heaven as a reward for fidelity. And as much as I pray not to be put to that test, I pray be able to testify to the name of Jesus Christ.
I do not know how some people accept the challenges and sufferings that are theirs and I suppose there are some who wonder how I have faced some of the challenges of my life. Yet we do because the power of the Spirit – the gifts of Counsel, Knowledge, Wisdom, Piety, Fortitude, Understanding and Fear of the Lord – sustain us.