Acts of the Apostles 19:1-8

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” they answered, “No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.” “Then how were you baptised?” he asked. “With John’s baptism,” they replied. “John’s baptism,” said Paul, “was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him - in other words Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.

He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.
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John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them:

“Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come - in fact it has come already -
when you will be scattered, each going his own way
and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave:
I have conquered the world.”

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In today’s first reading, St. Paul talks about the coming down of the Holy Spirit on some disciples. There are two events that this reminds us of - Pentecost, and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

In the gospel reading, there is a word that reminds me about the Sacrament of Confirmation. That word is ’scattered’. Most of our catechism kids seem to have a common belief about Confirmation, that it is the ticket to stop having to attend catechism classes. Indeed our catechism kids, once they have been confirmed, scatter, each going his own way. Is this the way it is supposed to be? We can get a clue by looking at the apostles.

Before the Holy Spirit descended on them, the apostles were praying every day in the upper room. When the Holy Spirit came down on them, each of them went out to preach the Good News to the people in Jerusalem. But the key thing is that they did it together. They did it as a community, not individually. They stayed together as a community even after that. They did not go their separate ways until the Holy Spirit tasked them with a mission to go to a specific place. Even so, they frequently returned to the place where the community was. Often, it was to check a specific doctrine and to come up with a consensus among the leaders of the Christians.

This is what it should be like. After Confirmation, we are not supposed to ’scatter’ but to remain in a community and together, as a community, share the Good News with others.

Have you ever watched the animated series or the movie X-Men? In the X-Men universe, there are a minority of people who have special mutant powers that usually manifest in their pubescent years. Some of these mutants try to hide their powers, for fear of being outcasts. Others use their powers for their own purposes, or they misuse their powers. The X-Men go around looking for such people and recruit them into their school where they learn how to properly channel their powers to do good and to fight evil. Those that do not get recruited into the X-Men normally go into hiding, pretending that they have no powers, or are recruited by mutants with a different agenda.

When the Holy Spirit descends on us, we have power, each in a different way. But unless we are taught to use our God-given powers properly, we will never be all that we can be. The only place where we can really learn to control those powers and to use them to do good and to fight evil is in a place or community where there are people like us, who want to help us to learn about those powers and to control them.

Without such a community, X-tians living in the world normally go into hiding, pretending that they are not X-tians, or they are picked up by people with a different agenda. Let us always remember the ‘X’ in our lives, the cross on which Christ bought our salvation.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we pray that with your gift of the Holy Spirit in us, we might not be ashamed to live as Christians in the world that you have called us to live in. For those of us without a community, help us to actively seek out a like-minded community that will help us to become all that we can be, for your glory. For those already with a community, help us to welcome those seeking a community and help us to bring all our members to be the best that we can be. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Community.

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