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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | God’s gifts are given to enrich the whole Church

‘For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.’

The readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time make it clear that God pours out His heavenly gifts upon His people.

In the first reading, God says: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, …until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” In other words, God will enter the hearts of His people and make them victorious over their enemies as well as over their sinfulness. “For the Lord delights in you and makes your land His spouse.” Sin alienates but mercy reconciles. “As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”

This can easily be applied to our lives.

Clearly, Israel’s changed state isn’t the result of a people impressing God with their holiness. Rather, the infinitely holy God reaches down with His mercy and changes their hearts, reconciling them with each other and God.

This gift-giving continues in the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In this post-Pentecostal era, the Church is exploding in size as well as in richness of expression because of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Gifts are given to individuals for the sake of the Church. The manifestation of these gifts gives evidence to non-believers that God is truly alive in its members, which leads others to seek God for the sake of similar blessings.

For example, when the gift of healing is given to someone, it encourages others to seek for God in their lives. The gift of prophecy is given to reveal God’s saving grace to others. The gift of the discernment of spirits helps people discern right from wrong.

These gifts are again being restored to the Church today. More than 100 million Catholics have received these gifts over the past half-century. This has enabled the Church to really come alive and bring back to the faith many who have fallen away. These gifts reveal the immediacy of God in their midst. They are spiritual gifts that transform lives. Catholics should be open to the gifts and pray for them. Throughout the Church, many parishes offer Life in the Spirit Seminars where individuals can be taught what these gifts are, how they operate, and how to receive them.

In the Gospel, Jesus and Mary go to a wedding feast. Mary shows concern for the newly married couple when they run out of wine. Perhaps many people came because they knew that Jesus would be there.

When Mary sizes up the situation she says to Jesus: “They have no wine.” He responded: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” That neither distressed nor deterred Mary. She simply told the servers: “Do whatever He tells you.”

Mothers have the gift of intuition. The poet Ogden Nash wrote a poem entitled: “Arithmetic.” He simply states: “If your mother asks what you want for breakfast and you say ‘one fried egg’ and she fixes two fried eggs and you eat them both, who is better at arithmetic, you or your mother?”

True to His mother’s instincts, Jesus had the servants fill the jars with water and then take some of it to the waiter in charge. The waiter in charge was very impressed with its quality, saying: “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when the people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

Jesus enters an ordinary human experience, a wedding, to reveal that He desires to offer a wedding banquet for all of God’s people where they will be nurtured with the new wine of Pentecost so that He can espouse all mankind to Himself.

We might each ask ourselves: “Am I enjoying this wedding feast? Am I happy to be a part of this feast, or am I disgruntled and upset?” It’s painful to be grumpy in the midst of others who are happy and celebrating life.

If I am grumpy, could it be that my “wine” is running low? Am I in need of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to change my attitude? Have I lost some of my focus or friends? What could change my life more than receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of repentance?

Maybe I need to get back to Confession and regular Sunday Mass. Maybe I need to get back to nurturing my life with daily prayer. Maybe I need to join a weekly renewal group in the parish for fellowship and mutual encouragement.

Even if this doesn’t apply to me, it certainly applies to some friends and acquaintances. Why not reach out to them in fellowship? Why not share with them the hope that energizes you? Don’t you desire that they join you in the kingdom of glory?

If you have hope in your heart, let your outreach show it. If you have joy in your heart, let your face show it. Our faces are neon lights people see every time they pass us. Our outreach to others shows them a care and concern that gets them thinking.

God enriches each of us with the gifts of His Spirit not for our entertainment, but because He wants to invite others into His kingdom. If you are running low on “wine”, go to the wedding feast and allow the Holy Spirit to bring you new life.

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