of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 12th, 2011
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignation Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
The Jewish people prepared to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, or (fifty days) by waiting for the seeds to grow into eatable food. They had planted at the time of Passover which was a remembering of how God had brought them out of Egypt and planted them in the new and promised soil of Israel. They prepared by waiting, watching, and hoping for nourishing rain. They would gather at the time of harvesting the first cutting and celebrate their faith in the abundant and accompanying God.
We prepare to celebrate the abundant blessings of the “Wind” of God by being honest about how we have been growing, because of the constancy of that Spirit. We can be quite occupied by how we need to grow, advance, virtue-up in our lives. There are good crops growing in our lives and our relationship with God, because of the goodness of God which we can easily negate. God gives in the increase and we are God’s farm-field. It is good to be honest about the growth we are.
In our First Reading and in the Gospel we hear some heavy breathing. The “breath” that brought about creation in the Book of Genesis, is spreading out once more and bringing about a new creation, a new revelation. Devout Jews are gathered for the second of their three major feasts. The first being Passover and the third, the feast of Booths which is a thanksgiving celebration for the abundant wheat and grape crops. People from all differing languages are gathered and they hear members of the Way or of His followers, begin speaking as “in-spired”. It is a second Genesis in which a second creation is to come forth. The Apostles experience the Spirit of God and they will be urged to speak in every land and every language to bring about the completion of the original “Let there be light”, and “Let there be life.”
Pentecost is a festival of the first fruits and in our faith tradition the first fruits were these early believers. They were encouraged to live it out, speak it out, bring it about and the “it” was the creative Word of Christ.
Jesus enters the locked-up spirits of the frightened disciples and they experience some in-spiring words themselves. Regret is replaced with renewal of the relationship which Jesus initiated individually several years before. Now there is something new about the relationship. Instead of “Come and see”, or “Come follow me”, there is a sending and a going-out party. Jesus breathes the Spirit into their vacancies and invites their insides to go outside and create the new incarnation of Jesus.
Saint Thomas Aquinas came up with the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I feel inspired to comment on these gifts which we are to have received with the sacrament of Confirmation. I do not intend to improve on the Angelic Doctor, as Thomas is called. I would like to more clearly understand these gifts I received way back at old Blessed Sacrament church.
I was given a colorful blanket by a Jesuit from India who told me it was a symbol worn by particular wise men in a remote area of his country. I feel warmer when I surround myself with it, but not wiser. Wisdom is not a gift to be worn, but a sense that everything is a gift. It becomes a growing sense of what things are and what they are not. Wisdom is a way of holding things in tension. We might want something to be more than it is and it would be so good if it only could be, but we allow it to be just what it is, with God’s fingerprints on everything.
This gift follows upon the first. The English word, “substance” literally means “to stand under”. To understand means that the Holy Spirit is enlightening our minds about the consequences of our use of all the other gifts God has given us. Abuse, means to take away the proper use from what stands under its appearance. Misuse is “my-use” with no respect for God’s design for the goodness of the object. The proper use of something is a great praise of the Creator, but we need this gift of Understanding to see better.
This is the Gift which assists us to know who we are and what we are to do. It is practical, that is it moves us to a gratitude for action. It is more than “self-knowledge”, but a grace that assists us in the awareness of our being in Christ and in our incarnating Him, or bringing Him into more visibility. It is the Gift which helps us know who we are in God’s eye.
This is the final Gift assisting the intellect or our ability to ponder and decide. It strengthens the mind to be able to look fearlessly at all sides, all the darker areas, all the unfreedoms and self-centeredness in our human struggle for truth. It assists us to be honest and aware of the various gravitational pulls of our whimpering flesh, prejudices, selfish inclinations and fears. This is the gift we are not so sure we really want, because we love our ways, our patterns of self-indulgence.
The last three Gifts are about doing the truth. There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. This gift moves us to a steady hand as well as a desire to keep on keeping on when we do slip and spill. While its root meaning is “strong” it is more about resolve, perseverance, and patience with our not being strong in our living the other Gifts. This Gift is the encouragement the parent gives to the child beginning to walk, “Come on, get up, woopsy, and try again!”
This Gift encourages a loyalty or fidelity to God and the relationship which God initiates and sustains. This Gift encourages us to prayerfully listen and reverently live what we hear. There are so many voices trying to convince us about our identity. Piety results from hearing who God says we are and living accordingly.
FEAR of the LORD
It would be a funny gift from God that would render us scared and frightened of the giver. This Gift of the Spirit is similar to how we might walk through a store whose shelves are filled with crystal and delicate china dishes. Respect for the beauty, yet fragility would move us, not to fear the owner, but a love for the creator of these artworks. This Gift works against recklessness and disrespect for the Giver and Creator of all. If we have a view of the beauty and goodness of creation, and stand respectfully in front of them, then we stand in a similar fashion before the Creator of all this delicate art-work around and within us. Come You Holy Spirit and bring forth a new crop within us.
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke of the great things God had done, alleluia. Acts 2, 4
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