Sunday Scriptures

Life in the Spirit

by Father Alonzo Q. Cox

On Sunday, June 16, 1996, I received the sacrament of confirmation at my home parish of Queen of All Saints in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

Bishop Gerald Barbarito, then-Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn and now the Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach in Florida, was the main celebrant. I had been looking forward to my confirmation day for quite some time. My excitement for the day was twofold. My parents were going to throw me a big party after the Mass, but primarily, I was intrigued about what was actually going to happen at the Mass itself.

A week prior to the Mass, my classmates and I had rehearsal in the church. Both the pastor and the director of religious education went over the liturgy thoroughly. I was unfamiliar with the Rite of Confirmation, so I was excited to actually experience what was going to happen. At the rehearsal, we were told that the bishop would lay hands over us and invoke the Spirit to come down upon us.

There were so many questions running through my young mind. How was he going to do this? Would I actually get to see the Spirit come down upon us? What was going to happen to me afterward? As you can imagine, these questions sparked my excitement even more as I got closer to my confirmation day.

Importance of the Spirit

As I reflect on today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, I am immediately brought back to the excitement of my confirmation day 18 years ago. St. Paul tells us of the importance of the Spirit – the Spirit that was given to us at the moment of our baptism.

“You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). As disciples of the Risen Lord, we are called to let go of the things of the flesh and to live in the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead.

Living According to the Flesh

Unfortunately, we live in a world that combats that. All we have to do is turn on the television or open up the newspaper or even look up at billboards that adorn New York City and we see how society is encouraging people to – as St. Paul states – “live according to the flesh.” These are truly distractions that hinder us from fully living in the Spirit of God.

In a special way, we pray for our young people, especially those who are preparing to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation. As baptized members of the flock, the Spirit of God dwells within them. As they approach this sacrament, I pray that they will not be lured into the things of the flesh but always keep their eyes fixed on Christ.

Eighteen years ago, I was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray every day that I am able to live in the spirit of Christ, in whom I live, move and have my being.

Let us pray together, as a community of believers that we will always and forever live in the spirit of our Heavenly Father, who sent His only begotten Son into the world to set us free.[hr]

Readings for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Zechariah 9: 9-10

Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

Romans 8: 9, 11-13

Matthew 11: 25-30[hr]

Father Alonzo Q. Cox is the parochial vicar at St. Clare Church, Rosedale, and the diocesan coordinator of Black Catholic Concerns.

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