Gifts for Everybody
The Second Reading is about gifts of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit is itself a gift of the Lord’s; and when the Holy Spirit fills a person, then the Spirit brings with it other gifts as well.
Some of these gifts are given only to some people. Some of the gifts mentioned in the Second Reading are special gifts of this sort. But there are other gifts of the Holy Spirit that are not like this. They are given to everyone who lives in grace, and they are always present in every one of God’s people.
The list of these gifts can be found in Isaiah 11: 2-3. Traditionally, the Church has identified seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah’s list. Four of them are gifts for the mind: wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge. And three of them are gifts for the heart or will: piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord.
These ordinary gifts are like the roots of a great tree in the soul of a person. They nourish the soul; and they result in a person’s flourishing, in his being fruitful for the Lord.
That fruit comes from the Holy Spirit, too. Traditionally, the Church has taken there to be twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. (A slightly shorter list is found in Galatians 5:22-23.) The fruits of the Holy Spirit are the sweet results in a person’s psyche when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in place. You can see the idea by looking at the list of the fruits. It begins this way: love, joy, peace, patience, and long-suffering.
A person who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him has his beloved Lord intimately united with him. That is why love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy follows, because a person is joyful in the presence of his beloved. And peace comes next. If you are your beloved’s and he is yours (Song 2:16), then you can be at peace. You already have all that is most precious to you. And that is why you can have patience and long-suffering too. The hard things of the world are easier to endure if your beloved loves you and is with you.
So some people have the gift of prophecy, and others don’t. But no one of the Lord’s people lacks love, joy, and peace. That is why the Lord says about his people, “By their fruits you will know them. (Mt 7:20).
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University