Sunday, December 13, 2015

Joyfully Gifted at Baptism

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudette Sunday – the liturgical day of the year we light the pink candle and recall the concept of joy in the world. 

Zephaniah tells us to rejoice and be glad with God our Savior, to sing, dance and exult God with all your heart.  In the Gospel, John the Baptist is preaching to those who were at the river about what to do now that they are baptized.  Interestingly, first he addresses everyone to share what they have to anyone who comes along in need.  Next, each according to their profession tells them how to conduct themselves in business dealings. John the Baptist is trying to teach them how to live their daily lives as God would want.

Today, Baptisms are a time when a person is claimed for Christ and become a member of the church. It is a time when the community gathered, joyfully welcomes the newest member of the church to faith in Jesus Christ; to be born anew to go forth, ready to serve God through using the spiritual gifts they have been given.  Every baptized person is joyfully gifted; called to serve God as priest, prophet and king; to share one’s spiritual gifts in how we act, what we proclaim and through one’s daily lives at home or in profession, out in the world.  

Think back on your life; the time you can remember since your Baptism.  Now, think of one of your spiritual gifts; one way you are joyfully gifted.  Can you see evidence of this spiritual gift since the time of your Baptism?  Go decade by decade through your life and identify how you have used this spiritual gift over the course of your life?  Did the times you used your spiritual bring the person you served joy?  Did it bring you joy?  Today, be joyful, sing and dance with God, exulting him with all your heart for the spiritual gifts you have been given and the opportunities you have had to serve him and bring joy to others.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Universal Call to Holiness

Universal Call to Holiness

1st Sunday of Advent

1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2

The universal call to holiness for each and every person is notable in many writings of the church.  This call has been prevalent in particular in the writings of Vatican II and is found often in writings pertaining to stewardship today.  Using one’s spiritual gifts is one way to live one’s faith in Jesus Christ as a disciple and may fulfill in one’s life a call to holiness.

St. Paul’s prays for holiness with the Thessalonians.  “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…so as to strengthen your hearts to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.”  But he does not end with just a prayer asking God for love for then, he asks God to work through each of them through the teachings and by the example he has left for them, to allow them to show their love for one another.  “We earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more.  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.”  This prayer of love received by God and given to one another is St. Paul’s prayer for holiness for the Thessalonians.

As was true for the Thessalonians, in the Eucharistic prayer we use today, we continue to pray for God’s grace and love to be poured down upon us so we may continue to live this life of holiness as well.  The definition of a charism is a spiritual gift from God to be used to serve another.  Whenever we are serving God, and sharing our spiritual gifts, we are in fact sharing in the universal call to holiness as disciples who are living their faith in Jesus Christ and hopeful for his coming this first Sunday of Advent.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Time for Testimony

The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

John 18:33-37

As Jesus is on trial at the end of his life, he is asked a profound question by Pilate.  Pilate is asking for his testimony, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus wonders how Pilate ascertained this information, on his own or by what others said.  What if someone were to ask you to testify?  What would your witness, your testimony be?  Who would other people say you are?

Our spiritual practices and the use of our spiritual gifts throughout our lifetime for love of God and love of one another may point to this answer.  Would others who have witnessed your life answer the same as you?

Our spiritual gifts are used to build the kingdom of God.   Indeed, Jesus tells Pilate “My kingdom does not belong to this world” and “he has come to testify to the truth.” What kingdom would your witness point to?  Would your faith, hope and charity point to this kingdom or the next? 

As we end this liturgical year, on this Feast of Christ the King, what will your testimony be?  Perhaps this may be a moment to discern the answer to this question in light of the use of our spiritual gifts in our lives.  Now is the time to create a witness, a testimony to God and to share with others of who you say you are and to what kingdom your life is pointing to.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dn 12:1-3
Heb 10:11-14, 18
Mk 13:24-32

In today’s readings we hear about some of our ancestors of the past, Michael, the priests in the time of St. Paul, and the disciples of Jesus.  All were chosen by God for a particular purpose in the time they lived.  They each were consecrated.

One definition of the word consecrated is “to make, or declare sacred; dedicated to a religious or divine purpose.”  At Baptism we are called to be priest, prophet and king.  We are claimed for Christ; we are consecrated.

St. Paul explains to the Hebrews “for by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.”  We are each consecrated, for a special purpose, with unique spiritual gifts to be used for God.  As we use our spiritual gifts, we recognize the sacred.  As one uses their spiritual gifts both ordinary and extraordinary results can occur for both the giver and the receiver. 

The readings today remind us, as disciples of today, as baptized members of the Catholic Church, we are consecrated.  Because of God’s love and the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are all consecrated; we are called to use our spiritual gifts in this world.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gift of Pastoring

The Gift of Pastoring (Shepherding)

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jer 31:7-9
Heb 5:1-6
Mk 10:46-52

The spiritual gift of pastoring (shepherding) is evident in today’s readings.  In the reading of Jeremiah (31:7-9) we hear, “The Lord has delivered his people. The Lord says, “I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world…they shall return as an immense throng.”  He says he “will console and guide them, lead them on a level road so that none shall stumble.”

What a beautiful description of the spiritual gift of pastoring (shepherding).  In the Uniquely His book written by Sheila Mellick, she defines this spiritual gift as “the special grace to commit oneself to the nurturing, formation and growth of a group of Christians for an extended period of time.
In the letter to the Hebrews (5:1-6) St. Paul describes the spiritual gift of pastor (shepherd) as “one made representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  No one takes the offer upon himself, but only when called by God” citing Aaron as an example.  A person with the spiritual gift of pastor/shepherd understands this unique call.

Finally one with the spiritual gift of pastor (shepherd) follows in the way of Jesus, gathering people around them, helping them to find faith and God’s presence in their everyday lives.  A person with this spiritual gift helps others discover a deepening of their faith.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Greatness and Servanthood

Greatness and Servanthood

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 53:10-11
Hebrews 4:14-16
Mk 10:35-45

Today’s readings talk about serving God.  “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant” (Mk 10:44).  Using our spiritual gifts is one way we serve God.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us our spiritual gifts are to be used to serve God and for others echoing this line from the Gospel of Mark. 

Spiritual gifts and grace are mentioned often in the writings of St. Paul.  In today’s reading written to the Hebrews, St. Paul suggestions that because we have a great high priest, that is Jesus, the Son of God, we can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Heb 4:14-16)

Turning to Jesus for mercy and grace is a good way to gain timely help and strength for enacting a spiritual gift.  Talking to Jesus is a way to listen for what you are being called to do.  So that as disciples we may be like Jesus in sharing the grace God has given, the mercy received and the Holy Spirit to give our lives for many as we use our spiritual gifts in this world.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gift of Prophecy

The Gift of Prophecy

In today’s first reading the story tells us about the 70 leaders in Moses’ group who were bestowed the spiritual gift of prophecy and immediately began using it.    In addition, two others Eldad and Medad who were not in the camp also were given this gift and began using it as well.  But a young man observing these other two, questioned Moses as to whether they should be doing this.  To which Moses answered him, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!  Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"

God gives each person unique spiritual gifts recognized in the Sacrament of Baptism.  The church in this rite calls each to be priest, prophet and king in using our spiritual gifts in order to show others how to be the way, the truth, and the life in being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Our spiritual gifts are given for the good of others; and in faith communities we can encourage one another to go forth to use them. 

The young man in the story of Moses, questions why other people are using the spiritual gift he understood was given to Moses.  But Moses reassures him that God bestows spiritual gifts to everyone.  Moses encourages the use of the spiritual gift of prophecy by those who have received it and even hopes that God may pass it on to others. 

Like the thinking of the young man, sometimes people can be jealous of the spiritual gifts given to others and wish it for themselves.  God gives each their own unique spiritual gifts to be used where they are at and for the service at others.  God calls forth the spiritual gifts for each person and each community as needed.  In the case of Moses, it was prophecy and Moses lets the young man know it is good the spiritual gifts are being used and hopes that God may bestow his spirit on them all.

In an address to the general audience in Rome on October 1, 2014, Pope Francis encourages us in our spiritual gifts tells us they are abundant and to be used.  “As a sign of God’s superabundant love for his children, they (spiritual gifts) are rich and varied, yet each is meant to serve the building up of the Church as a communion of faith and love. The very diversity of the Spirit’s gifts invites us to share them generously for the good of all, and "never to let them become a source of division”. Today let us ask the Lord to help us recognize with gratitude this great outpouring of spiritual gifts which enables the Church to persevere in faith, to grow in grace and to be an ever more credible sign and witness of God’s infinite love.”