When you were baptised you received for the first time the gift of the Holy Spirit making you a child of God . God is not some nebulous force – God is a person – Father/Mother who loves us and wants to be close to us.
In the first centuries of the church it was adults who became member of the Christian community – it was a risky thing to do. Christianity was outlawed because Christians refused to worship the gods of Rome. If you were caught you could be killed. So right after you were baptised you received this other sacrament, confirmation – you were anointed with oil, a oil that was meant to give you strength to be a Christ like person. Then you received your first communion, Christ the bread of life, the nourishment you would need to live a Christian life.
The first reading in today’s Mass is from the Acts of the Apostles – it’s a bit of a history of the early church. St.Paul was a very important person at that time. First of all he was a Jew, a very good and holy Jew. He had no time for the followers of Jesus. Paul saw them as traitors to their Jewish faith, he wanted to wipe them out. He was on his way to the city of Damascus to arrest these Christians when suddenly Christ appeared to him – Paul had no idea who he was seeing. Jesus said “Saul why are you persecuting me.” Paul asked, “who are you?” and Jesus answered “I am Jesus who you are persecuting.”
That meeting on the road to Damascus changed Paul’s life – from a persecutor he became a proclaimer – Paul was baptised and received the Holy Spirit – Christ’s Spirit. Christ’s Spirit gave Paul the power, the boldness, the enthusiasm to preach about Jesus Christ and his crucifixion. He would say of himself, I live now, not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live, I live trusting in the son of God who loved me and gave his life for me. Paul had a deep awareness of how much he meant to Christ – how much we all mean to Christ.
The Holy Spirit you are to receive – if you allow him – will help you to live Christ like lives, help you to pick good friends, help you to make right choses, help you to turn to God when you are feeling down, discouraged, confused. The Spirit will help get up when you fail to live up to what you know is right, help you to be faithful to Mass and the sacraments, help you to be good and generous people. If you allow him.
There is a question we might all ask ourselves this evening – if I was arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict me? Am I any different from people who go through life as if God did not exist?
As we pray for the Spirit to come upon these young people – we can pray for ourselves that our own lives guided by the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of Life.