Joy in Lent
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
Though this passage is one of the most recognizable in which St. Paul describes the “Gifts” of the Holy Spirit, it is not the only one. In Isaiah 11:2, Ephesians 4:7-13, and Romans 12:3-8 the gifts are also described and, interestingly, the lists differ. In some areas of scriptural review this might cause controversy, but in this case the lists compliment each other and suggest even more!
In reality, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are endless, and Paul’s attempts to enumerate them simply exemplify those gifts that can easily be identified in the believer. St. Paul, rather than affirming a stagnant itemization of gifts, teaches that the point of the list is to encourage the believer in their devotion to God.
Over the years, the church has affirmed a list of gifts common to all four passages from scripture in order to give us a reference point from which to start our discernment process. This starting point is actually the point - we need to start somewhere!
Once we begin our spiritual discernment and grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit will be made known to us and we will begin to manifest the fruit of those gifts. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are completely otherly from us—they are actual gifts, while the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is the product of a changed and changing disposition and inner life based on the reception of those gifts. The fruit is the change in the inner self and thereby the witness of life lived in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
So, recognizing a Gift of the Holy Spirit in me, I live into that Gift by exercising it for the Glory of God thereby deepening my relationship with Christ. In this deepening relationship I find, well, a deeper understanding of all things (in Christ) and manifest (say JOY) as the Fruit of the Spirit.
Hmmm, finding Joy in Lent? Not so much out there as in here. More to come on our shared journey Wednesday night!
I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. John 15:11
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Father Bill Burk†