From the Hermitage
Let our beginning be something of an investigation: why is it that God gave to the apostles and all those subsequent men and women through the centuries what we call the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit? Surely “because” is an inadequate answer. Realistically why did God give wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord to those confirmed in our Church? Would the world, would our Church, would Christianity be different without these seven gifts? Again, another way, what good have these gifts brought about in our world since that day when Jesus brought the Holy Spirit upon the small band gathered in prayer?
While we celebrate Pentecost as the day marking the beginning of our Church, is it not a day as well when we recall, as does St. Paul, that these days and the days that follow celebrate God’s goodness for the common good, among us here and all of God’s people who have been scattered throughout the world?
Paul, in today’s second reading answers these questions with simply strength: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” What is the apostle saying? While each individual seems to possess more than one of these Holy Spirit gifts, all of us make the picture, all of us bring the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the gathering of the people of God. He has made these gifts the glue that holds each person in the arms of the Holy Spirit, making us the Church of our God.
These gifts from the Spirit are given to us purely from God’s generosity. Considered carefully, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to us signs of the lavish and extravagant love God has for each of us. And to be sure these are gifts that strengthen our Church and each of us individually.
Consider a family with four or five siblings. Each of the siblings has a set of qualities which may not be the same as for another child of God. But it is each of these sets of qualities that gives strength to our Church, to our personal relationships with God. And when we do share these gifts with others, we are at our best for the entire flock of God’s people.
Another reality is this: our individual gifts from the Spirit when conjoined with those of our other siblings, we make clear to others the very person of Jesus Christ.