June 18, 2017
At the great Solemnity of Pentecost we celebrated two weeks ago, we remembered the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – upon the disciples. This event transformed the frightened followers of Jesus into fearless proclaimers of the Good News of God’s undying love for us. But more than that, it made possible the fulfillment of a promise Jesus made to his disciples in one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. In the Gospel of John, during the Last Supper, Jesus promises his disciples, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) This is a remarkable statement! Jesus is solemnly declaring that his followers will continue his ministry in the same way in which he ministered!
It is only after his Ascension that the Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit: their mutual, eternal self-giving love. It is that same Spirit that descended upon the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth at his baptism in the Jordan, that same Spirit given to us at our baptism. And it is the Holy Spirit working through the humanity of Jesus by which He turns cures the sick, expels demons, raises Lazarus, teaches with authority, speaks prophetically, forms the disciples and sends them as apostles, forgives sins, voluntarily lives in utter simplicity, and completely trusts the Father.
All the signs that accompanied the preaching of Jesus and made people seek him out are meant to be continued in the Church today through the gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at baptism. St. Paul called these gifts charisms. The Catechism states, “whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.” All the baptized receive several of these charisms, which are given for the good of others. It is possible to discern the charisms we have received, and thus come to greater clarity as to the purpose God has for our life, since the charisms indicate God’s plan for us and are the means to accomplish that plan.
Please mark Friday evening, August 11, and Saturday, August 12 on your calendar. We will be offering a Called & Gifted workshop to help you begin to discern the charisms God has given you. I’ll write more about them next week…