by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
Editor’s note: This homily was given at a confirmation Mass.
Now that you’ve publicly asserted that you really wish to be confirmed, it’s important to reflect for a few moments on what that will mean in your life, becoming a confirmed disciple of Jesus. I might mention that probably almost every one of us here in this church is a confirmed disciple of Jesus. So it’s important for all of us to reflect once more, “What does that mean? What does it mean to me as a disciple of Jesus to be confirmed around the Holy Spirit?” To understand it and to reflect on it for a few moments, it’s important to go to the Scriptures of today and to listen deeply to God’s word. That will guide us and help us to understand what we’re doing, what this sacrament is about.
But even before we look at today’s Scriptures, to put today’s in kind of a context, I remind you of the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel (the other Gospels, too, but especially Mark’s), when Jesus is beginning his public life. He proclaims, “The reign of God is at hand. The reign of God is right here, ready to break out into the world, into history.” The reign of God. Then Jesus says, “Change your lives; enter into this reign of God.”
I suggest that our first lesson today gives us an idea of what the reign of God means. Now, this is a vision that John the seer has when he’s exiled on the island of Patmos, and he has this extraordinary vision: “After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, every race, people and tongue, standing before the throne and the land, clothed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Who saves but our God, who sits on the throne, and the lamb?’ All the angels were around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures. They bowed before the throne and they cried out, ‘Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength to our God.’ “…