Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Release from the Burden of Sin leads to Confirmation
Dr. Jesudas M. Athyal
Carmel MTC, Boston

17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

In today’s passage we read of Simon, the Sorcerer, who practiced magical arts in Samaria where he held the whole population for a long time under his spell. He was an enemy of Christianity, but the powerful message preached by Philip, the Evangelist, led to his conversion along with a large number of people in Samaria. Simon who kept the Samaritans for long under his spell is now himself amazed at Philip's signs and great miracles. Simon was at last released from the burden of sin.

When the Apostles, who were in Jerusalem, heard that the Samaritans had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. It was probably because the preaching, the conversion and the baptism in Samaria were due to the work of the scattered disciples, and not the Apostles, that two Apostles themselves were sent to ‘confirm’ the new members in the church. This was in recognition of the danger of many independent bodies, unrelated to the Apostles, springing up in different places without any bonds to the mother Church.  Peter and John came to the Samaritans and prayed for them so that they may receive the Holy Spirit. When the duo laid their hands on them, the people received the Holy Spirit. The act recorded in verse 17 of today’s passage is the starting-point of what later developed into the rite of Confirmation.
In our times too, as Christians become disillusioned with their mother churches. They often go in search of ‘spirit-filled’ independent worshipping communities that are often unrelated to the traditional church. While the need of the believers to worship in ways that are most meaningful to them is to be recognized, we should remember that the right faith is carried over through traditions in the Church. For this reason, the Catholic and Apostolic Church, through the ages have maintained the rite of Confirmation, "after the example of the holy apostles.".


Release us, O Lord, from the burden of sin and confirm us in faith in You. Amen.
Conversion to Christ is a personal experience, but we grow in faith along with our fellow believers in Christ’s Church.