Today is a special day for us to remember those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. My maternal grandfather served in the Navy beginning near the end of World War II and ending his career in 1972 near the end of the Vietnam War. He was fortunate not to have been on the front lines since he served on an aircraft carrier. He gave his gifts to protect and defend our country as many before him and those who came after him have done and will do. There are those too that we remember today who gave their lives. We pray for these brave men and women and for their families who loved them and miss them. We all love our country and the freedoms that we have as Americans and it takes a special person to step forward and answer the call to serve in the Armed Forces.
“and when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit
came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
In the first reading Paul has come across some disciples and baptizes them and lays hands on them so that they may receive the Holy Spirit. Two gifts are given; speaking in tongues and prophesying. When we are confirmed, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us and the ability to strengthen the unique gifts that have been given to us by God from our birth. Whether it is bravery to defend our country or a desire to prepare the youth through the gift of teaching. All are gifts from God. What we do with these gifts is up to us.
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is giving his last instructions to the Apostles before his Crucifixion and death. They make a statement of belief in Jesus but he challenges the belief and tells them that they will leave him and go to their own homes. The Apostles will not fully understand Jesus teachings and preaching until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit makes things clear. In Jesus’ pep talk to the Apostles there is also a word of caution:
“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage,
I have conquered the world.”
Words of encouragement that we need today. Jesus never said believing in him would make life easy. With all the events and the political polarization occurring, not just in the United States, but around the World, our faith is the key to weathering the storm. To have hope and courage through prayer. To be able to tap into the gifts that have been given to us, through the Holy Spirit, to bring hope and courage to those who need us. We all have our part in building up the Kingdom of God in our country and our world. Is it easy? Certainly not! Does God give us the graces we need? Absolutely!
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.