Saturday, December 4, 2010

This struck me in today's Scripture...

Readings: Is 11:1-10; Ps. 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17. Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

You could say that the power of the Holy Spirit acts as the bookends that the four Sunday readings rest between.

The First Reading opens thus from Isaiah11:

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:

a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

a spirit of counsel and of strength,

a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

These verses are where the Church classically lists as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength (also known as Fortitude), Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord.  And the Church adds Piety, as it is implied by a life of faith.

These are the Gifts we received in Baptism and were completed in us in Confirmation. We cannot advance in the spiritual life without these gifts.  They come straight from God. We did not earn them. We did not win them.

These seven gifts from God put us in touch most profoundly with the Holy Spirit…which means these graces are meant to sanctify us.

Sanctifying graces are those that are aimed at making the recipient holy.  So, stop and read this:  “Sanctifying grace gives the soul the radical ability to take in the face to face vision of God in the next life.”- Fr. William Most
When we live those gifts well, we grow closer to our Lord and to his people.
Lets’s review the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. What are they?  Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
The first four gifts are for the mind: aiding the mind by the intellectual growth of the faith of the person: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding.  When these gifts are working well, they are efficacious in our lives -- battling the forces of ignorance, distractions, false idols, or inner blindness…
The other three gifts deal with the heart: fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord enrich the soul's affectivity – that means your emotional life. They enable us to stand faithful and firm.
When all these gifts of the spirit are operational  in some measure in our life, the whole person, in mind and heart, is drawn to beatitude and fullness of life with, in, and for God.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit enables us to live the Christian life. With them we can reflect the life of Christ in us. Through them, we mirror Christ.

Now, in the Gospel, there is much to ponder in a strong sermon from John the Baptist… but what caught my attention was, again, this mention of the Spirit, from Matthew 3:
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, 
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
With Jesus comes the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit empowers us, or more specifically, when we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us, and we don’t thwart his leadings, we can lead lives of virtue and service, peace and justice, and great faith, hope and love.  We see all of these things extolled in the Sunday readings… if you read them in full.

Some thoughts from Pope Benedict:

Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
-Is 11:5-6

Advent is particularly suited to being a season lived in communion
with all those who—and thanks be to God they
are numerous—hope for a more just and a more fraternal world.
In this commitment to justice, people of every nationality and
culture, believers and non-believers, can to a certain extent
meet. Indeed, they are all inspired by a common desire, even if
their motivations are different, for a future of justice and peace.

-Homily in Celebration of the First Vespers
of the First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2006


  1. Beautiful meditations. This morning before Mass Bella was having a baptism party for her doll, a feast set up on the coffee table and singing "Happy Baptism Day to you." Then when I heard the Gospel, I got a little shiver.

  2. What a great "party" to celebrate! Kinda reminds me that every day of life worthy of celebration... the way it will be in heaven!


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