May 21, 2017 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
Holy Scripture, the Word of God, is filled with so much meaning for us each and every week, if we only listen carefully and absorb what we are being told. In the last verse of today’s First Reading we hear, “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” It is speaking of Sts. Peter and John who traveled to Samaria to more or less confirm those who had been baptized there.
In fact, most historians believe that the laying on of hands in the New Testament is the origin of the Sacrament of Confirmation. In the Apostolic Constitution on the Sacrament of Confirmation Pope Paul VI affirmed that laying on of hands in the sacrament of confirmation continues the grace of Pentecost (on Sunday, June 4 this year).
If you have been confirmed, you have experienced the “laying on of hands.” That means the Holy Spirit has been called to bless, sanctify, transform, and give grace to you. You have received the Holy Spirit, which is the ongoing life of the Church. You have been anointed with the Spirit of God. That means you have been called to not only live out that Spirit, but also to live a life which shares that Spirit with your parish and with others.
When the priest or Bishop imposes hands, it is called epiclesis, a Greek word that means “invocation.” The “laying on of hands” is an important part of the ordination of priests and deacons. St. Paul reminded us all in his First Letter to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands.”