Bishop John Noonan

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that God’s Spirit would rest upon the Messiah to sustain His mission. Their prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah was conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus on the occasion of His Baptism by John. Jesus’ entire mission occurred in communion with the Spirit. Before He died, Jesus promised that the Spirit would be given to the Apostles and to the entire Church. After His death, He was raised by the Father in the power of the Spirit.

On Oct. 17, 2021, at St. James Cathedral, we will be celebrating a Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon adults through the Sacrament of Confirmation. These men and women have chosen to take on further study to enrich their faith journey. With great joy, they come from parishes all over the Diocese of Orlando knowing that the Sacrament of Confirmation deepens their baptismal life, calling them to be missionary witnesses of Jesus Christ in our families, neighborhoods, society, and the world. As baptized Catholics, we initially receive this message of faith. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, these adults are filled with the Holy Spirit in a deeper and more intensive manner with great emphasis given to the person of Jesus Christ, who asked the Father to give the Holy Spirit to the Church for building up the community in loving service.

It is fitting on this occasion that we join through our prayer, the people of God throughout the world, at the request of the Holy Father, to celebrate the official opening of a Synod convoked by Pope Francis, October 2021 to October 2023 with the theme, “For A Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” Synodality is the way of being the Church today according to the will of God, in a dynamic of discerning and listening together to the voice of the Holy Spirit. For our part, my sisters and brothers in Christ, God asks us for a listening heart to hear the Word of God and a prayerful, discerning openness to His will as one body of Christ.  Journeying together – laity, pastors, the Bishop of Rome — will require our offering to God with all our heart, with all our being, with all our strength, and with all our mind. Pope Francis said, “Journeying together…is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.”

The Scriptures of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time point us to put these words into practice as we proclaim God’s message about the humble call for service for all the people.  

Jesus tells us that being ‘great’ is not about how ‘high’ you are able to climb the ladder in a secular world. Jesus utterly rejects the vertical relationships and says, “But it shall not be so among you.” Jesus tells us that the only place of greatness is to be a servant, a servant of all the people, no matter our stand in society.  

He showed us this throughout His earthly years. Christ the King came to us homeless, fed the people, healed the sick, washed the feet of His disciples, embraced the forsaken, touched the lepers, was tortured and in His last, offered Himself in forgiveness that we might have eternal life. He rejected rank and status — today we praise Him as High King of Heaven.

We must begin our servitude at the altar of God and receive His Body and Blood to nourish our soul. As we behold the Lamb of God, as we walk down the aisle of the church to receive Holy Communion, we are coming to be united with Jesus. We welcome Jesus and we prepare ourselves to step from this sacred moment into the next sacred moment as we become the body of Christ by serving others. Then, and only then, are we able to join with each other, to journey together as pilgrims, and become missionary People of God.

May we, in the Communion of Christ’s body, offer our humble service to confidently approach the throne of grace.

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