GIFTS AND FRUITS
Last Sunday when Archbishop Brislin arrived for the confirmations he told me that he would not be asking questions of the candidates this year; he would preach a homily instead. But after a few minutes of preaching he abandoned the Lectern and came down and engaged the candidates with some thought provoking questions. You could sense the interest of everyone.
When I was preparing for confirmation (rather a long time ago) I had to learn off by heart, the precepts of the Church, the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, among many other things. We were terrified that the Bishop might ask us such questions in public!
More important than rattling off lists is the realization and celebration of the GIFT of the Spirit. In one of the most wonderful sentences in the New Testament we read that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
There is no end to the gifts the Spirit brings. The Church uses the text of Isaiah (11:1-2) to highlight seven: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
Writing to the Galatians (Gal.5:22) St Paul stresses nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.
But we can add our own experience of the gifts of the Spirit we have received: the gift of health, of friendship, of reconciliation, of beauty….Likewise we can see many fruits of the Spirit around us: the very existence of the Church, the sacraments, the tradition of holiness…..again we cannot foreclose the work of the Spirit.
May the feast of Pentecost this year be a time of rejoicing at all the PERSONAL gifts each of us has received – and, by the way, a time for pondering what we have done with the gifts!
Happy feast of Pentecost.
Sean Wales C.Ss.R