Dear friends. Today is the great feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There is so much that can be said about the importance of the Holy Spirit and what difference it makes to our lives and the life of the Church. Here I would like to offer a brief meditation on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. By reflecting prayerfully on each of these gifts, todays great feast becomes less abstract and grounds the gift of the Holy Spirit in our human experience while at the same time remaining a divine mystery.
Wisdom: The first gift of the Holy Spirit is Wisdom. This gift doesn’t come from books or universities but it is a supernatural gift which helps us to understand the things of God and the ways of God. For Pope Francis, ‘Wisdom is the grace of being able to see everything with the eyes of God. It teaches us to see with God’s eyes, to feel with God’s heart, to speak with God’s words’. Wisdom enables us to see God in everything and to honour him in all that we do.
Understanding: The gift of understanding enables us to understand things as God understands them. It allows us to move beyond the minds we have to take in all there is to grasp. This gift is hugely important for scientists who study the handiwork of God the Creator. The Spirit’s gift of understanding leads to unity and peace among all.
Counsel or Right-Judgment: The gift of counsel helps us to discern between right and wrong; what is true and what is false. It assists us in our ability to choose the path of truth that leads us to God and to freedom. As followers of Jesus, we ought to allow the Holy Spirit to assist us and to pray about any important decisions we have to make. Let us be united to the Holy Spirit that always leads us on the right path.
Knowledge: The gift of knowledge enables us to discover God’s will in all things and to see the beauty of God reflected in his creation. This gift illumines our minds to see that God has created the world and therefore we are moved to use created things properly and in a respectful manner. Knowledge is a sharing in the God who knows already. It should therefore lead to humility, not to pride.
Piety: Also known as reverence. The gift of piety helps us to love God and to pray with true devotion. As his children, this gift moves our hearts to enter into a loving relationship with God. We come to trust God as our Father and to know that God only wants what is best for us. Thus, the gift of piety stirs in us above all gratitude and praise.
Fortitude: Also known as courage. The gift of fortitude strengthens our will to do the good. It gives us the strength to do the right thing, even in the face of persecution and to be faithful at times of temptation. It gives our soul renewed energy and confidence and helps us not to fall into discouragement or to become lazy or be lukewarm in our faith. Think of the martyrs and their courage. We need this gift if we are to persevere in our faith and to live it faithfully with enthusiasm and joy.
Fear of the Lord: Also known as awe and wonder. With this gift we recognise the grandeur of God and how He is above all things. He is the Creator of the universe and our final judge to whom we are accountable. Fear of the Lord keeps before us our mortality and the moment of our death. It helps us appreciate the gift of life at this very moment, makes us grateful and leads to praise of the God of life and love.
Seven gifts, seven ways that the Holy Spirit unites himself to our human condition from within. Through the Holy Spirit, the promise of Jesus in the Gospels has been fulfilled. We have come to share the divinity of him who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Alleluia!