Faith Seeks Understanding
By the time you pick up this hard copy of the bulletin to read this Saturday/Sunday, fifteen of our parish youths must have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. They must have heard a version of my homily for the seventeenth Sunday of the ordinary time. The topic of my homily at confirmation this Saturday morning is the gifts of the Holy Spirit with emphasis on understanding, knowledge and wisdom. I made a case for the necessity of these gifts to the confirmandi. They will need them as they embark on lifelong efforts to make sense of the mystery of the Kingdom of God, the mystery of faith.
I told them they would have a lot of questions regarding the faith they have embraced totally in freedom. They would sometimes have doubts about God and the Church along the way, and they would ask pertinent and intelligent questions about the experience of evil and struggle with sin. But I made it clear to them that the Bible, Catholic Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church are a sure guarantee that our Catholic faith is a gift and a reasonable way to navigate the questions regarding mysteries of life. There will be questions, but the Holy Spirit will strengthen them in the moments of weakness and enlighten them when they are in the dark. The spiritual gifts of understanding, knowledge and wisdom are vital to responding meaningfully to questions related to Christian faith; ours is a faith seeking understanding.
The 11th-century Christian philosopher and theologian, St. Anselm of Canterbury taught us the principle of strengthening our faith by continually seeking a more profound knowledge of God who loves us. He penned the famous quote, "fides quaerens intellectum/faith seeking understanding". The gifts of the Holy Spirit would help us respond to questions about the kingdom of heaven, questions about Christian faith; it will help us make sense of the vicissitudes of life and answer the question of what is morally right or wrong. Just like Solomon, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom and understanding so that we "may know what is right" and what his commandments mean (1 Kg 3:10; Ps.119:130). Gifts of wisdom, knowledge and understanding help us to see and accept the gift of faith as a path to eternal happiness and the willingness to give up all other life-pursuits to have this "pearl of great price" ( Mathew 13:46).
Join me in congratulating and praying for our parish's newly confirmed boys and girls who received these gifts of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them to bear witness boldly to the kingdom of heaven, the greatest treasure they would ever possess. May the Holy Spirit always lead and guide you: Bailey Elizabeth, Maximilian Patrick, Trevor Adjutor, Gillia Cosmos, Emma Cecilia, Annabelle Cecilia, Reagan Elizabeth, Liana Cecilia, Mason Michael, Morgan Dymphna, Samuel Bernard, Rose Agnes, Joseph Sebastian, Mary Therese, Gabriel Blaise and Kendall Mary.
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP