“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” / Confirmation
Jesus continues to hang on the cross; his body bruised from the Garden of Gethsemane and beaten from the scourging at the pillar. His muscles exhausted from lack of sleep and bearing the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus has given his entire body to the Father for the sake of the world, yet one thing remains. His Spirit.
Jesus lifts himself up, relying on the strength of the nails to support Him, to utter another phrase, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). It is in this phrase that we see Jesus has not forgotten His mission through the torture. He is a complete, unblemished offering to the Father, body and spirit, for our sake and our salvation. Jesus entrusts his spirit to the Father, knowing that it is about to be separated from his body, in full hope that it may continue to lead on this mission while His body lays lifeless in the tomb.
The cross, however, was not the only reason for the Incarnation. Jesus also came to a model of holiness for all of us. So, what does this moment on the cross teach us about our own mission?
When we look to Jesus on the cross, we see Him, as we said, fulfilling His mission of doing the will of the Father. Jesus then entrusts this mission to the Church after His Ascension (spoiler alert). As baptized Christians, we are a part of the Church, the Body of Christ, continuing to fulfill His mission that culminated on the cross. This is beautiful, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus, through the sacramental ministry of the Church, gives us another font of grace: Confirmation.
In my opinion, the most under-valued and misunderstood of the sacraments is Confirmation. Here, we are anointed so that we may “share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ” (1294). Contrary to popular belief, we are not confirming the FAITH of our Baptism, but rather, confirming the MISSION of our Baptism. We are anointed to carry on the mission of Jesus and we must follow His example by entrusting the mission entirely to the Father.
The question still remains: What are we to do with the anointing of our Confirmation? As good Catholics, we look to the anointing of Old Testament to understand the anointing of the New. There are three types of people anointed in the Old Testament: priests, prophets, and kings (Lv 8, 1 Kgs 19, 1 Sam 16). This anointing gives them an authority and responsibility. Priests to offer sacrifice, prophets to speak the truth, and kings to lead.
We are anointed in the responsibility of all three because we come to share in the mission of Jesus who is all three. Jesus on the cross is most fully priest, prophet, and king. As priest he offers himself absolutely, as prophet he speaks truth over the nations, as king He leads the way to eternal communion with the Father. We are sharers in this mission, but it is only effective when entrusted to the Father and done in service of His will. We all have the ability through our Baptism to operate as priest, prophet, and king, yet, through our Confirmation, we are united with the mission of Jesus to use these abilities for the will of the Father. So let us commend our soul to service of the Father by following Jesus on the way to the cross and following His example as priest, prophet, and king. May we recall our Confirmation in all our works as we cry out with a loud voice “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”