Today’s readings remind us of our real power, our very real strength. Many of us were baptized as infants and have no recollection of the experience. It is more likely we remember receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. Think back to that moment when your Bishop laid his hand on your head. Something very real happened, albeit invisible, admittedly somewhat intangible. We were given the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. How are we using these gifts in our daily life? Do we call on them to help us discern our moves? Do we recognize the gifts in others, and encourage them to recognize these gifts within themselves?
When my step-daughter Ally was a very young soccer player, she “played up” meaning she was always the youngest player, and most often the thinnest. When a player went down, the rest of the team knelt on one knee waiting for recovery. It was adorable, actually. When our tall and thin Al went down, which was often as the other girls were bigger and stronger, she refused to cry, refused to be dissuaded from her goals. I would say “you have fortitude!” She went on to play in college, scoring the winning goal to take her team to the NCAA championships. Today she is chief financial officer at a law firm, and under age 30 she clearly still “plays up”. Perhaps remembrance of the spiritual gift of fortitude catalyzed its impact. Perhaps the gift of counsel catalyzed my approach to encouraging her.
Courage Not Fear
Lately, it seems headlines can be more frightening every day. However, “God arises: His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him (Ps. 68:2). We need to remember the power He has given us through Christ’s passion, our Baptism and our Confirmation. The gifts of the Holy Spirit make enemies flee from us! We need not worry for a single minute about these intentionally frightening headlines. We need to use our gifts! In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds the disciples, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (Jn 16:32). We are not alone because the Father is with us, and so is Jesus, and so is the Holy Spirit… all the time… in all circumstances.
Further, Jesus encourages, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me” He explains the essence of the remedy; He offers them the knowledge needed to face their world. “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).
Let us stay courageous, use our gifts of the Holy Spirit, and encourage others with them. Here we find peace in Christ, as promised.