The Seventh Day of Christmas!

Acts 8:14-17

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Today's passage puzzles many people.  It also leads some people to make a division between sacramental baptism ("it's just a ritual") and "true baptism in the Holy Spirit."  But this is to misread the passage.  The Samaritans who became Christians were, like all Christians, baptized and, like all Christians, had received the Holy Spirit thereby.  But this does not mean that the story was over.  It never has.  For as long as the Christian tradition has existed, there has been a second sacrament of initiation — confirmation — which asks God to pour out the fulness of the Holy Spirit on the believer and empower him with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the work of mission in the world and the task of becoming mature in Christ.  It is this sacrament which we see being given in today's passage.  It is a sacrament filled with the quiet power of God.  As the New Year begins, ask God to fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit that He gives in Confirmation so that you may live out the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and be a saint.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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