Volunteering for the year is winding down, another “terrorist” attack in England and Trump is still president of most of the United States. There are many newsy items this Pentecost morning. If there was ever a time for the Spirit to infuse us with knowledge and courage, it is now. When I was young studying the Baltimore Catechism in elementary school we were taught the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was these gifts that were first introduced at Baptism and later renewed at Confirmation as we crept towards adulthood and understood what they entailed. For some, I suppose they seem archaic but perhaps a closer look reminds us we are still learning and they are still invaluable. Here they are:
1. Wisdom: going beyond just loving material things, and focusing on the spiritual stuff as well. The Big Picture.
2. Understanding: what does it really mean to be followers of Christ? How much of culture and politics are true to the meaning of the Gospels? Understanding helps make the self evident and obvious truth shine through all the other fake news and conspiracy theories we are fed by Fox, Breitbart, Daily Caller and Drudge.
3. Counsel: simply stated is “right judgement.” We can tell right off the bat what is right and what is wrong, choosing, hopefully, what is right and consistent with being a loving human being.
4. Fortitude: having courage to put fear aside and stand up for what is right. (Lots to do in this present environment!)
5. Knowledge: what does it mean to be after God’s heart? Seeking and sometimes finding wisdom and insight through prayerful reflection. This leads to adult proaction benefiting all and not just responding with a knee jerk reaction borne from half truths and eventually finding their way into incoherent, sometimes contradicting tweets in the middle of the night. Quite frankly, they do not serve the common good, in fact do the opposite.
6. Piety: or reverence. This gift helps to connect to the real reason we were created, which is to love, ourselves and our fellow human beings. It is a humbling gift that puts us at eye level with the created other, who is not better nor worse than we are. If we cannot love others whom we see, how can we possibly love God whom we can’t see.
7. Fear of the Lord: this boils down to approaching life, all life, with wonder and awe. We, like others, seek perfection, and like others it is sometimes a hit and miss adventure. Yah win some, yah lose some. Fear of the Lord is not fearing punishment from the creator (because the source of unconditional love doesn’t do this, we do with our poor choices). It really is trying our best to live out our purpose on this planet, which is, to learn how to love and to be able to accept love in return. It is as simple and difficult as that.
Pentecost is a good time (actually anytime would be good) to reflect on the seven gifts of the Spirit we have carried with us since we breathed our first (baptized or not). We all need help living this life. None of us are perfect. We fail, we get up, and we try again. No one is alone, we are all on this journey together and whatever stands in our way of our goal of equality, peace and being connected to our fellow human beings needs to be rejected.
and so it goes…