Tuesday, 10 May 2016


"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.…"
1Corinthians 12-4-5

As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost we think about the gift of the Holy Spirit, who empowered the apostles to preach the Gospel with wonderful eloquence and courage. At the same time He touched the minds and hearts of their listeners. Each could understand the Good News in his own language. Each received the gift of faith; they believed! This generous out-pouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirits got the infant Church off to a flying start. 

Moreover, the Holy Spirit blesses the Church with many other gifts, as St. Paul tells us,
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good," (1 Cor. 12. 4-7).

Some gifts, such as speaking in tongues, were more spectacular than others. No surprise this led to rivalries and jealousies! Paul had to reprove the Corinthians and remind them that the one Spirit was the source of their unity amidst their diversity. Whatever the gift, it was for the common good. No matter how spectacular the gift, the greatest of all had to be charity. Without love, the other gifts were worthless.
That insight was a great comfort to St. Terese of Liseaux. She felt so depressed at having no special talents with which she could serve God – until she read St. Paul emphasizing that love was the greatest of all gifts. Loving would be her vocation, as it is ours. It’s vital all of us should realize this!
But sadly, in our materialist world, success tends to be measured by our earning capacity and the status symbols it can buy. But that’s not the only measure.
What a wonderful gift to be warm-hearted, loving and caring! So, too, is being a peacemaker. In fact, one of the Beatitudes tells us that such people are called the children of God –precisely because they are sharing in the work of the Son of God Himself.
A few years ago a university degree was thought to be an essential mark of success and the passport to prosperity. Without a degree you were considered second-rate. That has proved an illusion. Some degrees are worthless. But now we’re shifting our focus to appreciating the value of technical skills and other accomplishments –such as making people laugh or cooking a tasty meal.
Rightly, we say that those with practical skills are gifted. The Bible says God had specially gifted those who constructed the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant,
"He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs,"
(Exod. 35. 35).
Being able to serve the community in any way should be welcomed as a gift from God. All travellers should be grateful to whoever was inspired to put wheels on a suitcase! It’s so important for us to appreciate whatever others have to offer and to give them encouragement.
It can be so destructive and demoralising to despise some and envy others. As a counter-blast to this negative approach Pope Francis wrote, "We rejoice at the good of others when we see their dignity and value their abilities and good works. This is impossible for those who must always be comparing and competing, even with their spouse, so that they secretly rejoice in their failures. (Amoris Laetitia, 109).
So let us rejoice in Gods gift of the Holy Spirit Himself, and the rich variety of gifts, which He has bestowed on different individuals for the good of the whole community.
P.S. The best way to show our gratitude for a gift or talent is for us to use and develop it -not hide and forget it.

Isidore Clarke, O.P.

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