Pentecost reminds us to use gifts of Holy Spirit received at Confirmation Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, May. 24, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, by Fr. Don Lange

I was confirmed in seventh grade. In religion class, I learned that in the Sacrament of Confirmation we receive the Holy Spirit who strengthens us to be Christian witnesses. I worried whether I could witness to Christ by dying for him as a martyr. I took Confirmation seriously.

The Church received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. To prepare to receive the Spirit, for nine days key followers of Jesus gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. These included the apostles, together with Mary, some other women, and disciples. They were united in intense prayer.

In Acts 2:2-4, it says, “Suddenly there came from the sky, a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Tongues as of fire appeared to them, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

Transformed by the Spirit

At the sounds from the Upper Room, a crowd gathered. Peter with the 11 testified to them that the Spirit had come down upon them as Jesus promised. In Acts 2:37-38, it says, “The people were moved by Peter’s words. They asked, ‘What are we to do?’

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” As a result about 3,000 persons were added to their number that day. This is why some call Pentecost the birthday of the Church.

When the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, they were changed from frightened and confused followers into courageous witness of Jesus. All except John died for Christ.

Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, despite persecution, the Church quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire. In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which established religious toleration for Christianity and all religions in the Roman Empire.

Instruments of Christ’s mission

At Confirmation, we received the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. As witnesses of Christ, we probably won’t be called to be martyrs for Christ. But the Holy Spirit empowers us to do our small but important part to help to change this world into a more Christ-like place.

Catholic laity have important roles as Christian witnesses. They are the ordinary point of the Church’s contact with the world and the primary instruments of Christ’s mission there. The Spirit helps them to influence society, family, culture, art, and other areas of life in their families, neighborhood, work, and society.

In no. 31 of Lumen Gentium it says, “The laity live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.”

To help them do this, confirmed Catholics need virtues such as honesty, justice, sincerity, kindness, and courage.

Committed lay Catholics influence the common good by voting responsibly, asking accountability from elected representatives, and making sure government policies protect God-given human dignity and rights.

Being responsible Catholic parents

Married Catholic laypersons deeply influence Church and society by being responsible parents. Children are the hope of the future. The best gift parents can give their children is to love each other and their children. Children learn how to love by being loved.

In no. 2223 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says. “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.” Responsible parents model love, forgiveness. peace, and respect for marriage’s sanctity. They teach their children respect for life from the womb to tomb.

Opening ourselves to God’s will

Mary, the first and greatest Christian, is “God’s Masterpiece.” She lived a life filled with family concerns and labors. She witnessed to Jesus by being fully open to God’s will, following her son to the cross. Mary prayed with the Church at Pentecost.

Pentecost reminds us to take our Confirmation seriously. Let us ask the Spirit to help us follow Jesus and be open to God’s will like Mary. May the Holy Spirit help us to continue to be Christ-like witnesses where we live, work, recreate, or wherever we are.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.