Homily for the Confirmation at the Franciscan Chapel Center
7 April 2013
First Reading: Acts5:12-16
Second Reading: Rev 1/9-11,12-13,17-19
Gospel: John 20: 19 – 31
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, which we also call Divine Mercy Sunday, and during this Mass you will receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
We have just heard words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ according to the gospel of John. For me, the most impressive part of what Jesus said is the words:
“Peace be with you.”
He repeated these words three times. I think this fact is very important. Perhaps that is why the priest during Mass, just before Holy Communion, says to everyone:
“The peace of the Lord be with you always.”
When Jesus was crucified and killed, the disciples were not only disappointed and discouraged, they were also frightened, and they ran away. They were afraid of the Jewish leaders. They also were sorry and ashamed because they had disowned their Master. With fear and remorse they came together in a house, and shut the door tightly.
Then Jesus came in, even though the door was locked, and said to them:
“Peace be with you.”
The voice of Jesus was salvation and relief for them. They saw the Lord, they were glad, they rejoiced, because they felt they were forgiven and accepted by their Lord Jesus. Jesus forgave their sins.
The Gospel says:
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
The disciples received the Holy Spirit, and with the power of the Holy Spirit they could give people forgiveness for their sins. And so just two weeks ago, the priest who had received that power could forgive your sins in your first confession.
That is the way that the apostle John tells us about Pentecost, the day when the apostles received the Holy Spirit as the Lord had promised. At the same time they also received the power to give the Holy Spirit to other people, and so complete the work of baptism.
Bishops are successors of the apostles, and have this power of giving the Holy Spirit to people who have been baptized. And so now, as the bishop of Tokyo, I am going to give you the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.
You have already been baptized into Christ, and when I pray for you and make the sign of the cross on your forehead with holy oil, you will receive the power of his Spirit
The power of the Holy Spirit will help you to imitate Jesus. So you must try to be active members of the Church, alive in Jesus Christ. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit give your life completely in the service of everyone, especially in the service of the poor, of the sick, of the lonely, of people whom others look down upon, or discriminate against. This is what Christ did; he came not to be served but to serve.
So, before you receive Confirmation, I ask you to renew the profession of faith you made in baptism.