The new converts in Samaria had been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit, so the apostles sent Peter and John to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit and to lay hands on them, and so they received the Holy Spirit.
At the 10.00am Masses on three Sunday mornings in June (8th, 15th and 22nd) almost 70 children and other family members, who have been baptised, will receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation, and will go on to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion for the first time. The bishop as successor of the apostles is usually the one to lay hands on candidates for Confirmation but he can delegate that power to a priest and, on these occasions, it will be my privilege to act in his name and in the name of the whole Church.
As a parish community we need to be praying, during the next weeks, for these children and adults to receive the Holy Spirit. This weekend we have a great opportunity, in our 40 Hours of devotion before the Blessed Sacrament, to pray for them, for ourselves, and for the many needs of our community and of the whole world. We will also pray for an extra hour, between 3.00pm and 4.00pm on Sunday, for the success of Pope Francis’ ecumenical visit to the Holy Land.
Jesus explains what receiving the Holy Spirit means. He is going to the Father, but in another way he is not leaving us: he is asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us. Because the Father, the Son and the Spirit are one as well as three, when we receive the Spirit into our hearts we are receiving the love and life of the Trinity. That love has been described as a dance, a life-giving movement that goes round and round without beginning or end, and Jesus is inviting us into the dance.
The first set of suggestions raised by our Lenten groups was that there should be more opportunities for us to come together to share our faith, to reflect on the scriptures and the teachings of the Church (especially of Pope Francis). We will be responding to that suggestion in the coming months, but let’s all take the opportunity this weekend to take some extra time to be with the Lord, to ask him to send the Holy Spirit to us and especially to those who will be confirmed in the next month.