Tomorrow we celebrate the first confirmation ceremony in the parish. As you might appreciate the children in primary seven are flat out making preparations and attending practices to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly.
Every year confirmation is an important parish celebration which marks the importance of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The sacrament of Confirmation completes the journey which begins for a child in baptism.
On the verge of becoming young adults the primary seven children are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them to become witnesses to their faith. Receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit the candidates are granted the courage and the perseverance to take responsibility for their faith by becoming active in the Church helping to build up the kingdom of God. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit when he returned to the Father; in the Church’s sacraments we celebrate this gift.
It is not only the boys and girls who need to make preparations for confirmation, I was acutely conscious of having to make the necessity preparations myself. So for the first time in this New Year 2013 I made the necessity pilgrimage to the barbers on Spencer Roads.
Amid all the turmoil and chaos some things never change and the experience of the barbers is one of those reality checks which keep your feet grounded although the barber’s chair is still too high for me. I walked into barbers knowing I would be greeted by a barrage of abuse from the Man United supporting half of the partnership. What I wasn’t prepared for was the random Spurs supporter who thought he had a right to slag.
In my defence I was alive when Liverpool last won the league Championship I’m not sure he could say the same about Tottenham. Thankfully the abuse was over quickly and when someone remarked how the prayers weren’t working for Liverpool I joked when it came to football and the weather I might be an atheist.
After all the initial banter we moved on to more important topics such as the presence of horse meat in your burger. A man was asked in his local chippy what he would like on his burger, he replied ‘a fiver each way’. I also heard how when a person went to check the best before date on their burgers they opened to fridge… and they were off.
Although on reflection I think it was Fr Colhoun who told me the second story. Meanwhile back at the barbers we spent the next twenty minutes trying to resolve the world’s problems. I’m convinced we have the same discussions and the same solutions offered on a monthly basis. So on the first month of a New Year the same set of New Year’s resolutions were made as hopes and dreams were expressed. I’ve given up making any predictions regarding football or the weather.
Instead I was hoping how in twelve months time I would still have enough hair to necessitate a haircut and allow me to sample some of the wisdom on offer at the barbers.
In the celebration at the marriage feast of Cana we experience the beginning of Jesus public ministry. The gift of wine highlights the joy and the excessive generosity of our loving Father. In each of the sacraments which breathe life into the Church we receive a superabundance of God’s grace. God is always faithful to his promises; God’s mercy and generosity are our guarantee of the gifts which our Heavenly Father offers us in his Son through the Holy Spirit.
As we begin this New Year where do we look for guidance, who do we turn to for nourishment and strength?
As we make new promises and resolutions how will we be helped and strengthen in our struggles. Due to habit and weakness we can find ourselves caught in a rut, chained by limitations and failures which have characterised previous attempts to change. Yet our desire to change, our desire to be better people is a sign of God’s presences in our hearts. Regardless of the times we have fallen God brings his healing if only we would listen.
God’s generosity is our opportunity to be saved, his abundant grace when accepted and celebrated through prayer and the sacraments can transform our lives. We’re asked to gather every week as God’ people to remember and make present the great events through which God revealed his love, namely through the Life, Death and Resurrection of his Son.
We all been invited to share in the grace offered to those who have the humility to accept the gifts which God offers his children. We ask for the courage and the perseverance to remain faithful to our baptismal calling and live out our life of discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.