Gifts for Everybody

The Second Reading is about gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is itself a gift of the Lord’s; and when the Holy Spirit fills a person, then the Spirit brings with it other gifts as well.

 

Some of these gifts are given only to some people. The gifts mentioned in the Second Reading are special gifts of this sort.  But there are other gifts of the Holy Spirit that are not like this. They are given to everyone who lives in grace, and they are always present in every one of God’s people.

 

The list of these gifts can be found in Isaiah 11: 2-3. Traditionally, the Church has identified seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in this list. Four of them are gifts for the mind: wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge.  And three of them are gifts for the heart or will: piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord.

 

These ordinary gifts are like the roots of a great tree in the soul of a person. They nourish the soul, and they result in a person’s flourishing, in his bearing fruit for the Lord.

 

Because the gifts are in each of God’s people always, so are these fruits of the Holy Spirit.

 

Traditionally, the Church has taken there to be twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit, a list developed from a slightly shorter list in Galatians 5:22-23.  The list begins with these five: love, joy, peace, patience, and long-suffering.

 

A person who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him has intimately united with him his beloved Lord. And so love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy follows, because of the presence of the beloved. And peace comes next. If you are your beloved’s and he is yours (Song of Songs 2:16), then you can be at peace. You already have all that is most precious to you. And that is why you can have patience and long-suffering too. The hard things of the world are easier to endure if your love loves you and is with you.

 

So some people have the gift of prophecy, and others don’t. But no one of the Lord’s people lacks love, joy, and peace.  That is why the Lord says about his people, “By their fruits you will know them. (Matt.7:20).