“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given…Be careful.” ~ John Wooden
“Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” Saint Paul explains in the opening words of today’s 1st Reading (Ephesians 4:7-16). “He gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ.”
Have you ever wondered why God bestowed upon you the particular gifts that you possess? For that matter, what about those in our midst, past and present, who are renowned for their supreme talent and ability? Whether it be Saint Thomas Aquinas’ sublime theological acumen, Dean Kootz’s ability to pen a gripping suspense novel, Pablo Casals’ dexterity on the cello or even the effortless grace with which Willie Mays patrolled centerfield, the largesse of our Lord is seemingly limitless, certainly omnipotent, but mysterious as well.
As you’re reading this, perhaps you’re even reflecting upon that one stand-out gift that God gave you, something that you’re known for in your inner circle. Unfortunately far too many among us envy the talents and gifts of others while ignoring or simply not appreciating those which God has given us. About a month ago, we reflected upon the deadly sin of envy https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/On-Envy-and-Turning-to-Christ-at-the-Buzzer, that disordered affection which Socrates called “the ulcer of the soul.”
Why our Lord blessed each and every one of us in the ways that he chose to do so is a divine mystery, one which I do not pretend to know the answer to nor do I spend all that much time trying to solve. Why one person would spend their time on Earth as a Hospice Nurse as opposed to an electrician, or a math teacher, or the Quarterback of the Denver Broncos is largely immaterial against the backdrop of eternity anyway. The goal of one's life ~ everyone’s life ~ is to one day achieve Heaven. To come to know, love, and serve God by way of the use and continual cultivation of one’s unique talents. It is not to rack up swollen bank accounts, titles, patents, promotions, Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, World Series Rings, or even to be canonized into Capital “S” Sainthood.
How do we get to know Jesus? How do we come to love Him? To serve Him? Through a different set of powerful gifts; the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts ~ wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord ~ freely available to all who pray for them, to all who simply “knock, seek, and ask“ for them (Matthew 7:7-8), are the seven arrows that must find their way into our spiritual quiver. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, “the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit ‘complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.‘ Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.“ (1831). Of these Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the great Saint Ambrose said "Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come."
Over the next few days, Scripture will afford us the opportunity to discuss the role that the Gospels, the Sacraments, our Blessed Mother and Prayer play in assisting us on the road to eternal glory in the Beatific Vision of our Lord in the Kingdom that will have no end. On Thursday for instance Saint Paul will urge the people of Ephesus and us to “put on the armor of God so that we may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil.” Without this armor, we are no match for the Prince of Lies, the Great Accuser Satan himself. We would be, in essence, showing up to a knife fight with a spoon. For today however let’s focus on the Gifts of the Spirit and how we may welcome them into our very being. I leave you with a simple prayer you can recite in which you ask the Holy Spirit to empower you through the unending grace of her gifts:
“Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive Your promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of Your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to Your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from You. Work Your gifts in me and through me, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name.“ ~ Amen