The readings from this reflection: Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; 1Cor 12:3b-7,12-13; Jn 20:19-23
As we celebrate Pentecost, likely most of us think of the picture of all the apostles and Mary gathered in the upper room with tongues of flames over them signifying the coming of the Holy Spirit. When we think of this day and the Holy Spirit it is also a good time to think back to our Confirmation, when we received the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the seven gifts (wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, and awe.) Whatever was the date we received this sacrament, it is good to treat this day as the anniversary of our Confirmation. So often with anniversaries, whether it is our confirmation, our marriage, or the passing of a loved one, it is a good time to do more than just walk down memory lane. It is a time to ask ourselves, are we living up to the fullness of this moment, of the sacrament? Am I fully using the gifts I was given?
The goal I give young people before receiving this sacrament is to see if they can name their gifts. So often they think of their gifts in the most basic of terms, “I am smart in school,” or I am not; “I am good at sports,” or I am not. It is my hope that they, and we, will see we have more gifts than we have realized. Certainly, we have all received spiritual gifts, like the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is worth asking, is there one or two of these that I rarely use? And can I use these in the weeks or years ahead to focus on growing on the spiritual gift(s) that I do not use? Or to grow in prayer for others? To do so, I would suggest that you to grow in Jesus’ gifts of meekness and humility. In addition to spiritual gifts, we also have physical gifts or talents. Do I have good hand/eye coordination? If so, then perhaps your gifts are with sports, or music, video-gaming. The bigger question with these gifts is whether I use them to help others or do I keep these gifts to myself ? Can I help someone who does not have these gifts? Some gifts come to us through life skills.
Perhaps through trial and error you have learned how to be a good parent, or perhaps how to walk with someone struggling with addiction. Perhaps through the loss of family members you have learned how to process grief in a healthy way. If we learn from life, if we grow from our mistakes, we grow especially in the gift of wisdom. Perhaps your gifts are of a more emotional level. Do I have (or want to have) emotional intelligence? These gifts can range from empathy, to patience, to compassion, to self control, and adaptability. This area could include, am I a nice person? Do I have good interpersonal skills; am I easy to get along with? It is good to have a heart, but does my heart bleed all over the place? This is an area of gifts in which a little moderation is a very good thing.
Finally, more than emotional intelligence do I have the traditional sense of intelligence? One may have book smarts or technical knowledge, like fixing cars or computers, or it may be good decision making. It can range from being a good teacher to being a great cook. It can be that I am good with language or can speak more than one language, or being good with numbers. Perhaps just as important, can I see and celebrate when others have gifts that I do not? Still, it is not enough to simply know our gifts, today is a day to celebrate our gifts. Today is a day to ask, “Am I using my gifts well?” because if we understand the true nature of gifts, then we know God gives us gifts so that we may share them: Gifts are never solely for our own benefit. Do I hoard my gifts because it takes too much energy to share them? Today is a day to let the fire of the Holy Spirit reignite our hearts to share what we have been given.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Amen. A blessed Pentecost!
Claretian Fr. Ray Smith, CMF, is Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Springfield.