12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I will acknowledge before My Heavenly Father.”

This phrase is a great consolation to us. It speaks to us of how the Lord Jesus Himself will respond, even in the very courts of Heaven, to those who live and speak in a way that acknowledges Him! How do we do that? He is Risen! He has sent us His Spirit. That reception of that Spirit was necessary before His disciples could truly become His witnesses. The Spirit descended on them on Pentecost. But we, who have been Confirmed, have also been invited into the reality of Pentecost, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes: “It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.” (CCC #1302). In other words, we have been given sacramentally the same gift that they received when the Fire first descended on them, on that first Pentecost in 33 AD! The great gift of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was to renew, in the hearts of the Catholic faithful, an understanding and a deeper experience of what Confirmation was always meant to convey to us:  the very power and experience of Pentecost itself! The importance of this renewal has been echoed by the last several Popes, especially St. John Paul the Great, who rejoiced that the Church had, as he put it, “rediscovered the charismatic dimension” of the Church. Pope Benedict is equally explicit, inviting us all to experience “the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Pope Francis has taken it to an even more explicit level, by encouraging priests to invite their people to take the Life in the Spirit Seminar! We have very strong encouragement, especially from the “top,” to open ourselves more fully to those gifts of Pentecost we received when we received this great sacrament!

But it is not enough for us to have been gifted with such wonderful grace, if we do not then acknowledge Him before men! How do we do that? When we think of sharing the Gospel, we often think of the great men and women of God who do that with their whole lives, often as a specific calling they have received from God. Here at Christ the King, we are surrounded by such people, e.g., Ralph Martin, Sr. Ann Shields, Mary Healy, Al Kresta, Pete Herbeck, Steve Ray, Dave Mangan, etc., etc. One could be a little overawed by this and think, “Well, if that’s what it means to preach the Gospel, then that’s waaaay out of my league!” I remember the first time I ever preached at Christ the King, I had been visiting for a few months and was invited to give a homily on a Sunday. As I got ready to preach, I looked down at the front row and Ralph and Sr. Ann were sitting there smiling up at me. ARGH, I thought, what can this visiting newbie teach them about God????

What’s the Lord Jesus’ response to this? It’s simple: all are called to acknowledge Him before men, but each person, uniquely created by the King of Kings and gifted with specific talents, abilities, and gifts, is to simply respond as the Holy Spirit gently leads them. For some that is a public ministry of evangelization, for some it is lovingly leading their own kids more deeply into the Kingdom. It may be as significant as addressing thousands; it may be as simple as holding the door for someone, with a smile and a gentle “God bless you.” It can be as non-threatening as a gentle invitation to someone to come to Alpha, but that gentle invitation may have a totally life-changing consequence! As we continue to plead with the Holy Spirit for His gentle guidance in our lives, He will lead us into opportunities to gently share the gifts that we’ve been given. Let’s respond faithfully, realizing that only the King of Kings can truly change hearts. Our part is to just do what we have been called to do, and trust Him!—Fr. Ed