Grace to you!
During yesterday’s reflection, I hinted on the need to mirror in our life the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received. It was an introduction to today’s reflection, the last day of our Pentecost Novena. Hence, today’s theme is on a Spirit-filled lifestyle. We want to pray we receive, not just the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the fruits as well.
Whatever gifts you and I have received from the Holy Spirit are for service. They should make us better people too. They aren’t meant so we can be mere tools, or actors or unrenewed copycats of Christ. They aren’t meant so we would be acting without inner commitment or lifestyle consistent with the life of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just come and go as a magical tool. The Spirit isn’t a force invoked in and out at our whims and caprices. We aren’t talking about a man-made god we create and control. The Holy Spirit is God, the Third person of the Trinity, not a human being or some magical deity. The Holy Spirit comes to a willing heart and stays. Like the Lord, the Spirit makes a home in us and transforms us from within.
Hence, when the Spirit blesses us and our community through us, with gifts, we aren’t to see this as a mere functional thing. We aren’t to see it as our creation either. Sometimes we get carried away by our gifts. Believe you me, this happens with more frequently than any child of God would want. So, we had better watch. The glow of our gifts shouldn’t make us ignore inner transformation. We want our lifestyle to align with the expressions of the gifts. We want to become, what His Holiness Pope Francis, following Saint Pauls’ thoughts, describes as “Spirit-filled evangelizers” (The Joy of the Gospel, 259).
The gifts, while they build the community, should also open our hearts to a life of gratitude. This life is best lived through the fruits that flow from the gifts we have received.
You recall the first and second days of our Pentecost Novena, I emphasized that our priority should be to pray that the Holy Spirit dwell within us. The Holy Spirit is the Gift. This Gift of the Father and the Son, then gifts us differently.
Hence, the fruits are those virtuous qualities that flow from our life as those being led by the Spirit. They do not make us mere actors. They make us real. They make us become what our giftings express. Virtuous people.
His Holiness, Pope Paul VI in his classic Evangelii Nuntiandi, while describing authentic popular devotions (piety), exhorts us to seriously consider these “interior attitudes” from the Spirit. They include “patience, the sense of the cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others and devotion” (EG, 74, 48).
Saint Paul gives us a list of some of those fruits. They include “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). I see them as a crown and grace to our charismatic gifts.
A few last words: It’s one thing to receive numerous gifts. It’s another to allow the Holy Spirit to renew us from within. It's also crucial to be responsible and accountable to the Lord, the giver of the gifts. We want to be sure we aren’t distracted because our gifts are influencing lives. We want to make sure, every day, we ask how we’re living the life of which the gifts of the Spirit are pointers. As the Lord discouraged Peter from getting distracted, we have to be focused in following the Lord (Jn 21:22). Remember, the Holy Spirit isn’t going to force us into renewal. Our cooperation is needed.
To conclude, if one would ask me to suggest a model to look up to in being dynamic Christians who use their gifts well and live out the fruits of the Spirit, I would say without hesitation to learn from the Mother of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary. With her as your mentor, you will never go wrong. Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, be my mentor. Amen.
Pray: Lord, as I welcome your Holy Spirit in my heart today, make me totally yours in service and in glory. Amen.
[Pray the Novena, Come Holy Spirit]
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday Easter Week 7: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; Jn 21:20-25]
Grace to you!
In preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit this Sunday, we have been prayerfully reflecting on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our particular focus this year is on the charismatic gifts. Today, I will provide a list of gifts so as to jumpstart your prayerful considerations in identifying your own gifts and hopefully in using them for the glory of God and for service.
If we understand that the gifts, especially the charismatics gifts, are given by the Lord for service, we have to know that the list below isn’t exhaustive. God gifts, depending on the need of each time, hence the commonly known gifts, don’t exhaust what God gives. God gives more than we know.
Here is a spiritual principle you have to bear in mind. In terms of charismatic gifts, God gifts willing human instruments when the need for a particular gift arises. Are you ready to be that willing instrument the Lord would use to provide for your church and community? Are you going to be like Saint Paul, for instance, who applied the gifts of discernment, wisdom and elocution in testifying to the power of the resurrection before a heated up and antagonistic audience (Acts 23:6-11)? Are you going to be that person through whom God’s glory and gifts shine in the community? It’s joy to say yes to God.
You may use an economics analogy of demand and supply to elucidate this idea. When need arises, the Lord, the provident God, supplies “according to his richness in Christ” (Phil 4:19). No one outdoes God in generous provision.
The list below is drawn from Scripture and magisterial writings. Namely, Is 11:1-2; 1 Cor. 12; Rom 12:6; Eph. 4:11; Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium nn. 4and 12; Catechism of the Catholic Church nn.767-801;851, 2003-2004;2702-2703. As you go through the list, see if you can identify some of your particular gifts. I won’t explain each of the gifts or give a detailed theological treatment on the nature and structure. This is a project for another work in the making.
You may want to keep an inventory of how you have been putting the gifts to work in service of God and your neighbor. Remember that gifts given are not to be hidden. They are generously given by the Lord to be used to serve.
I would begin with the seven traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear or awe of the Lord. In the previous year, I had reflected on these traditional gifts. Other gifts include administration, teaching, preaching, evangelization, leadership, discernment, power of reading souls, faith, healings, miracles, exorcism, deliverance, prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, giving or almsgiving, mercy (compassion), service or ministry, exhortation, elocution, holy levitation, bilocation, helping, intercession, encouragement, and numerous others which arise depending on the need situation.
A word of encouragement as you pray for the renewing and gifting presence of the Holy Spirit. One of the things you have to avoid is allowing fear in your mind. Entertaining fear could discourage you from using your gifts. Learn from the saints and great men and women who have led the way in this matter. No need to second guess yourself when you know the gifts you have received. Every gift comes with a hazard. Don’t be deterred because of the hazards. Get to work. Serve the Lord and one another with your gifts.
Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, give me the grace to identify my gifts and the willingness and courage to use them for your glory and for service. Amen.
Continue praying the Novena, Come Holy Spirit.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Easter Week 7: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; Jn 17:20-26]
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.