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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Missing Spiritual Gifts (On Evangelization And Mission Part 132)

Pentecost Sunday

Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

After Jesus told his disciples to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth and make disciples of all nations, he empowered them with his Holy Spirit. Doing divine work, they could only be fruitful by using divine power. Further, he equipped them with the necessary tools, basically spiritual gifts. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (v.7). Another translation renders it this way: “The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good.”

So each one receives a spiritual gift, which is to be used for service. And the basic service, per the final instruction of Jesus, is to proclaim the gospel to all. It is the body of Christ, the Church, as well as individual groups within the Church, that is to do this. As such, the verses on spiritual gifts is followed by Paul’s reference to the one body with many parts (v.12-13). It is this one body, putting together all the gifts given its members, that is to do the Lord’s mission.

Here is the problem: the verses on the specific spiritual gifts are skipped. These are in verses 8 to 11 citing 9 gifts. This is a grave omission. The lay faithful are told the Holy Spirit is given to the body of Christ in order to serve in its mission. But the lay faithful are not informed of what are the gifts given by that same Spirit! They are told they will be empowered, but they are not told about the tools of empowerment.

Why? I think that basically, it is because many of these gifts are no longer operative in the lives of Catholics. And the Church, except for charismatic renewal, has no longer been giving importance to these spiritual gifts. Further, the hierarchs of the Church have been remiss in pursuing the very basic mission, that of evangelization. If you don’t evangelize, then you do not need the spiritual gifts given for the task.

Perhaps the hierarchs also do not want to be confronted with the reality that basic gifts, such as prophecy and tongues, which were the manifestations experienced by the early Christians who were filled with the Holy Spirit, are no longer being used today, and are no longer being taught to the faithful. This is a fatal error. Without the exercise of these gifts, the Church workers are deprived of the tools given by God precisely to be able to effectively proclaim the gospel to all.

On this important day of Pentecost, let us be aware of and knowledgeable about not just the Holy Spirit but also spiritual gifts.

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