Pentecost Sunday – The Homily
Robert Wicks is an author, professor and medical professional and consultant. He is Graduate of Hahnemann University (Psychology Department) and Loyola University. His book, No Problem, Turning The Next Corner In Your Spiritual Life is a kind of workshop for the soul.
His intentions, in writing this book were to first, offer a way to acknowledge, accept and start your spiritual journey where you already are, and second, to employ:
- Three doorways
- Twenty lessons
- Thirty 30 spiritual exercises
… in order to invite in the Holy Spirit to carry you around the next spiritual corner.
In his book Robert tells the following story:
One day at dinner, my daughter turned to her own children and asked: “What are you good at doing? In other words, what gifts have been given to you so that you can help others?” This is the kind of questions that seven to ten-year-olds love to answer. It allows them to get creative. It allows them to argue with one another with no repercussions. It also allows them to brag about themselves without their parents’ correction.
What came out of the conversation was that each of us has particular gift talents or “Signature Strengths” that can be offered to others to help them. The effective use of these strengths, however, does not come naturally nor does it come easily. And you can’t develop and use them alone. You need the help of the Holy Spirit.
But how can we work with the Holy Spirit to develop our signature strengths for the benefit of others? Allow me to offer five ways.
First Point: Capability
Let’s examine the writing of Saint Hilary (Bishop) from his Treatise On the Trinity:
We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God.
In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would be, if they were denied that which allows them to exercise their function. For example, our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial. Our ears cannot react without sound vibrations,
It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Holy Spirit, your mind May have the ability to know God – but it lacks the light necessary to receive and use that knowledge.
Second Point: Desirability
Imagine a decision of an NFL quarterback who has the opportunity to use speakers in his helmet to get instructions from the Offensive Coordinator. Suppose he would say, “No, I don’t need that. I can lead the team perfectly fine on my own. I don’t need any extra help.” He probably would not be a starting NFL quarterback much longer because he is eliminating a tool that allows him to be more effective. St. Hilary again:
Christ makes life so much more tasty and easy to live without the sense of distress. He clears the lens through which allows us to see and enjoy the gifts we have been given, not worrying about limits, and let God take care of the rest.
Third Point: Capacity
In his writings, C.S. Lewis countered objections that this Holy Spirit thing seems a little weird. He said, “Look, people talk about the spirit of a family, or the spirit of a particular club.” Special Forces and the Marines talk proudly of the “Esprit de corps.”
Lewis also said that the receipt of the Holy Spirit, as well as the acceptance, appropriation and use of the Holy Spirit, is a dance, a drama. It’s not a one time – one shot deal.
It is also a capacity that we can, and need to, grow. “This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man or woman in proportion to his or her readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it.” (St. Hilary)
Fourth Point: Teleology
What’s the goal of combining the Holy Spirit with our charisms? Refer back to Robert Wicks’ story – you can’t stop with the Signature Strengths or charisms.
- A Charism is = Natural Skill + training + practice.
- Take charism + humility = wisdom.
- Take wisdom + compassion = love.
This is perhaps why Pope Francis is so popular. He combines all of the elements of natural talent, wisdom, humility, training, experience, practice with an infusing of the Holy Spirit to arrive at love.
Last Point: Sources
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father’s vine which bears fruit on its branches. The most intimate cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the Church is achieved in the liturgy” (CCC #1108). We receive the Holy Spirit sacramentally at Baptism and Confirmation. We can certainly continue to receive the Holy Spirit through our daily prayers. But the Eucharist is the primary way that we receive the Holy Spirit.
Audio version of the homily can be found here: