Tenth Sunday after Trinity 2009

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

In the Epistle reading for today, Saint Paul imparts his exhortation on the various spiritual gifts, which the Holy Spirit provides for the brethren in Christ Jesus. He lists the various gifts; but, even more importantly, he acknowledges the great responsibility, which has been conferred by such grace upon each and every one of the faithful. Specifically, we are to profit with the gifts given unto us; that is to say, we are to nurture the gifts as if a seeded soil: tilling the ground, pulling the weeds, pruning the vines as they reach to the Light in the Heavens. There is a harvest to be reaped, and the benevolent Master always beckons more workers into His field. Indeed, the color and texture of that harvest landscape owes as much to the unique skill and care of the individual worker, the Christian blessed by a spiritual gift peculiar to himself, as to the eternal will of the Master Himself, not because the Master needs the toil of the worker, but because He elects to share the plentitude of His creative power with His most cherished creation. God creates Eden, but Adam names the animals given to his dominion. That relationship, of God and Man as co-creators, of Man compounding the goodness that God has invested in him, lies at the core of what it means to receive such spiritual gifts.

We have all heard the adage: It is truly more blessed to give, than to receive. Indeed, to the extent that we focus on such spiritual gifts as a grace being received, or even more crudely as a power being vested into us, we miss the entire point of that relationship. The gift is not in what we receive, whether it be the power of heightened wisdom, or deeper knowledge, or healing, or the working of miracles; the gift is in what we do with such grace, perhaps in offering that prayer that finally converts another man unto Christ Jesus, or perhaps in being that voice of reason that convinces a man to turn away from his wretched sin, or perhaps still in being that example of learned compassion that inspires a boy to take up his books and open his own mind to what is true in the world. The gift is in discerning what is needed and in directing what we have to the improvement of our brethren, knowing that ours is the partial act, the one worker among many others in the same field, and that whatever we do with such grace will be perfected by the fully sovereign will of the Master Himself, in His time and by His measure.

The Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, offers a keen insight, which we may apply to the matter at hand:

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.”

The gift is in listening and then doing, until all that we have received has flourished manifold for the loving care of the brethren. What is ours is truly what we give away, in our own, unique expression of a faith, hope, and charity, earned for us by the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross and inspired within us by the Holy Spirit.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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