Many Gifts of the One True Spirit

Week of January 17, 2016

Our Second Reading today invites us to look at the many gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It is a reading often chosen by parishes when the bishop arrives to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation.  To one is given the gift of faith, to another the gift of healing, to one is given the gift of prophesy, to another the gift of discernment of spirits.  When Paul announces that there are many gifts, he is always quick to point out that they flow and are an outpouring of the same Spirit we call holy.  His letter reminds us that the source is one and the same.  Even though they manifest themselves completely and differently, they do not contradict each other.  His constant reminder of the source being God through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is essential to his message to the people of Corinth.  They, like all of us, were trying to figure things out on their journey of faith.  They were looking at all the great things God was doing and wondering how all these things can come from the same one and true God. They were struggling with the competition of whose spirituality was better.  Paul, over and over, moves them to reflect on the source.  Where do all of these gifts come from?  Where do all of these manifestations of the Holy Spirit find their source?  He is plain and clear.  It is from the one true Holy Spirit, the same Spirit.

All of us have been blessed by God and all of us have been given not only the promise of the Holy Spirit, but the opportunity to share the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us.  What gift we have is needed and what is needed has been given.  I believe this and have come to believe in the great faith I find here at St. Anne.  Not every gift is the same, which is good.  All are given and all work together. They are given to an individual, not just for themselves, but for the life of the community.  In next week’s Second Reading we hear the continuation of this reading.  We hear that not only is the source of the gifts the one and same true Spirit, but also they are given to work together in harmony.  Paul will use the image of the body.  The eye can’t say to the hand, “I do not need you”.  The feet can’t say to the ears, “I do not need you”.  All of these build from the reality that we know the source of the gift.  Everything we have belongs to God.  All of our gifts flow from the same Holy Spirit.  There are many different ways of doing things, many different perspectives, yet underlying it all, we are the Body of Christ.  We are called to use our gifts to make the Body of Christ strong.

At St. Anne these are true and spoken words that find action. It is easy for me to see these readings come alive in the wonderful ministries of the parish and in the leadership of the Parish Council.  Our staff offers these ministries the gifts they bring and together, the reality of God’s presence comes alive.  We are the Body of Christ and I feel blessed to be a part of all that God is doing.

Rev. John J. Ouper