The other day I was visiting my family on Monday afternoon. One of the neat things about being a diocesan priest is the understanding that you have two families, your parish and your own human family. It is always nice to catch up with my sisters and brothers, my father and my nieces and nephews.
Mathew is my youngest nephew. He will turn 8 in August, which makes him (soon) a third grader. I was sitting with my sister on the beach when Mathew emerged from the Atlantic Ocean with his "boogey" board. He quickly dropped it at his mother's feet so as to run off to whatever the next activity for the day would be.
What followed was a very common conversation about how the board was his responsibility and should safeguard it by returning it to the family gathering area so that he would have it for another day.
Mathew was not getting the point (I learned later that what was driving his thought process. He thought Mommy would carry the board herself back to where it belonged. There is something innocent about Matty's thought process. The countless times his mother looked after him from the moment of his birth, in fact his conception to this particular moment.
Mom was trying to teach him discipline, in fact discipleship so that he would grow up a good member of society. Matthew, as his brother and sister have learned before him (and as it is reinforced nearly every day when it is time for chores) is that maturity and responsibility go hand in hand.
That is what Sacramental preparation is all about. The Church takes it very seriously when it comes to celebrating and receiving our seven sacraments: Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Healing, Holy Orders and Marriage.
Today in the sacred word of God we hear about two particular Sacraments: Confirmation and Healing of the Sick. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, mentions to the community there that the Holy Spirit has sealed them. This is a literal mention of the very essence of the Sacrament of Confirmation is the same one that most of us have already received, probably when we were in middle school. This “proof” scripture is a great testimony to our 2000-year tradition of faith.
In the Gospel we hear of the 12 being sent out, two by two to evangelize, to heal and cast out demons, in a word to sanctify. At the end of the "good news" we hear how they were healing the sick by anointing with oil.
We should reflect that Jesus Christ is forming these twelve men as the first missioners (the literal meaning of apostleship) to be sent to the four corners of the earth. These disciples are formed in discipleship by learning self-discipline, not only for their own good, but also for the good of the entire world.
If he leads a normal life, I hope, one day my youngest nephew will be grown up. He probably will not remember the bogey board lesson. He passed it on Monday, a bit grumpy as he dragged, not carried, his board through the sand to its place of rest.
You and I are called the same way by Our Lord Jesus Christ to learn little lessons through the lens, which is our lives, lived out. But God is calling us to a much more profound consolation than just a job well done or a safe toy put away. God, who has revealed himself through the great mystery of our faith, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit wants us to be completely possessed by his joy forever. There is a share for us here as we await the greater glory of Heaven if we follow his simple instructions to live a life of virtue, of goodness. To turn away from sin, vice and darkness for two reasons: our own sanctification and also so that we can live in a just and peaceful world by being attentive to our role as good disciples to which we are called, like the 12.
Ultimately, God is calling us into the everlasting glory of his Kingdom, through and with his eternal Son, O.L. Jesus Christ, now and forever.