Grace to you!
Previously, I shared how God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John 17, the Lord Jesus prayed for us, the members of his body the Church. My heart was filled with joy as I read the Lord’s prayer and blessings of God’s abiding love upon us. “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them" (Jn 17:26). Today, our prayerful reflection centers on the special gift of perception—faith.
One of the special favors the Lord grants to the believer through the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. When you became a believer, born anew in the waters of Baptism, you received this grace, the gift of faith.
With this grace, one perceives things in Godly manner. One also believes God’s plan of salvation in Christ. If you keep this faith alive by abiding in that grace you have received, you will see how all things hold together in Christ.
While faith is another theological virtue—a virtue infused in the heart of the believer by the Lord himself—, it is also a gift of perception too. The Swiss theologian, Hans Ur von Balthasar, calls faith a “theological act of perception” (von Balthasar, Seeing the Form, p. 150). With this perception, we can see the glory and can live being inspired by what we see. No one who truly has a glimpse of this glory lives without being impacted by it. That simply can’t happen, unless one hasn’t seen.
We read a beautiful story about Saint Stephen, the first Christian Martyr. Scripture says Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).
The Holy Spirit grants us the favor to see what the physical senses cannot see or perceive. The one who created us with physical sense of sight blesses us with much more holy spiritual sight to see the glory with the eye of faith. In his famous adoration hymn “Tantum Ergo”, the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, emphasizes that the gift of faith affords us what the physical senses cannot perceive.
With the grace and theological virtue of faith, comes other sorts of giftings as the Lord deems fit for each individual or circumstances that call for it. Though these charisms are not the same with the theological virtues and are not comparable to them in the order of importance, they do help build one’s faith-life and the community. This is so because the gifts of the Holy Spirit sustain the moral life of the believer (CCC, 1830).
The Holy Spirit grants to some special charisms of faith (1 Cor 12:9), the kind that can move mountains (Mt 17:20), metaphorically speaking. The Spirit also grants other forms of giftings that relate to perception. While I am not keen on strict grouping of these charisms, since biblical teachings from Saint Paul (1 Cor 12; Gal 5:22-23) to Saint Peter (1 Pet 4:10-11) provide us with only singular list of examples of the gifts, one could relate them to the roles they play in the body of Christ. So, I can talk of those other giftings that relate to perception and, therefore, to the grace of faith.
Imaging, for instance, being gifted with the special favor of discernment. Think of a situation where you are blessed by the Holy Spirit to have deeper insight into things, experiencing some word of wisdom or knowledge. Or you can imagine being gifted with what spiritual writers call power of reading souls, as was the case of Saints Pio and Catherine of Siena. In any of these instances, you have a heightened sense of discerning things properly. You may also receive the gift of vision, to see God’s plans in things current or even into the future. You become a prophetic instrument in the unveiling of God’s will for God’s people. Such charismatic giftings, when used in charity, are a blessing to the community. They build up.
Pray with me today, for the gift of this kind of holy perception. Pray that our hearts may be fertile to receive whatever gifts the Lord has in store for you and me.
Come Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear. Amen. Be sure to continue the Novena Prayer, Come Holy Spirit.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Seventh Sunday Easter C: Acts 7:55-60; Rev 22:12-14, 18-17, 20; 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.