Apostolic Tracts The Gifts of the Spirit Part 2

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                                               PART 2

Besides the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit which enables us to grow in holiness and in our relationship with God, there are the charismatic gifts which are more for mission or ministry.  These later gifts are meant to build up the Body of Christ, the people of God in the service of others. The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but some of the many ways the Holy Spirit gifts us to fulfill the work of the Gospel.

1) Word of Wisdom: This is different from the sanctifying gift of Wisdom, which enables one to see things from God’s perspective and is intended for one’s personal sanctification. The Gift of Word of Wisdom is to help someone else.

An example of this is found in the Acts of the Apostles.  Stephen, inspired by the Holy Spirit was able to share with those, who confronted him, God’s plan as it had unfolded from the beginning and culminated in the person of Jesus Christ. Stephen already believed. He was anointed with inspired clarity concerning God’s plan throughout salvation history, so those who did not yet see could see Jesus as the Messiah. He was the instrument used by God to help others.

The Holy Spirit desires to do the same in each of us- to give us words to touch the heart of another. When it happens, the person will know that this wisdom did not come from himself or herself. It came from God, as a gift through to help someone else. Whether the other accepts the wisdom or not is not the issue. The person is responsible only to be open to God.

2) Word of Knowledge: This too is different from the sanctifying gift of Knowledge. Like the Word of Wisdom its intent is to help another.  Recall the time Jesus was dialoguing with the Samaritan woman at the well in John’s Gospel. He saw her situation and her thirst. To open her up to the message he was sharing with her, he told her: “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman correctly answered and said to Jesus: “I do not have a husband.” Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit in the Gift of Word of Knowledge, answered her: “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

How did Jesus know this? The Spirit inspired Jesus in his humanity with this gift in order to move the woman along to greater openness to understand God’s plan for her. Sometimes the Holy Spirit reveals something that we couldn’t possibly have known otherwise on our own. When we share it with the person we believe it is meant for, it touches the heart of the person to be more open to what God is or wants to do in his or her life. Again, we are mere instruments. We are not responsible for what the person does or does not do with the Word of Knowledge. We are only responsible to be open to the Spirit and follow his lead.

3) Faith: There is the virtue of faith and the spiritual Gift of Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that holy church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself” (CCC No. 1814).

Because we believe in God and all he reveals, the Gift of Faith empowers us to step out and activate our faith in God in a specific way that may result in something miraculous. How often Jesus would say to the persons requesting a healing, “Be healed according to your faith.”

Through the power of the Holy Spirit their faith in Jesus that he could heal them opened them to receive healing.

Jesus stated it very clearly in the Gospel of John during the Last Discourse with the disciples. “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

4) Healing: the Gift of Healing is evidenced frequently both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus exercised this gift on numerous occasions. He healed the blind, the mute, the deaf, the paralyzed, the crippled, the leper and the deformed. He healed by touch and by word of command.

Jesus himself said to lay hands on the sick and to pray in faith. This is what he sent the disciples to do and what he expects us to do. When we do what Jesus commands, we may or may not see any external manifestations of healing. But our understanding is that Jesus is doing something in the person, whether we see it or not. Jesus is the healer. We are instruments through which his power and love are ministered.

5) Gift of Miracle-Working: Besides healing there were other signs and wonders which Jesus performed, such as the multiplication of loaves and fish, the changing of water into wine, walking on water, and raising the dead to life. 

At times Jesus would use these signs to prepare the hearts of his hearer to receive the message of salvation. At other times, Jesus would confirm his teaching with a sign or wonder.

In the same way the Spirit may act through us: to prepare the hearts for the truth of revelation or to confirm what has been said. Over the centuries similar signs performed by Jesus were experienced by different people in different places. One that comes to mind is the multiplication of food on Christmas Day at a Mexican dump site. A group of Catholics felt the Lord wanted them to share with the poorest of the poor a simple meal on Christmas Day. They brought enough food for about 500 people. But to their surprise over 1,000 came. The believers began to pray a simple prayer that Jesus would once more multiply the food to provide for his people. Not only did they feed everyone but they were able to give something to each person to take home. The situation called for faith and prayer and action. The believers responded and God acted. This is just one recorded modern day example of the Gift of Miracle-Working.

6) Prophecy: A prophet is a spokesperson for God who speaks in the person and name of God. An example of this is when God used someone in the community of Antioch to reveal the choice of Paul and Barnabas as missionaries: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Comparing the use of the gift of prophecy and the gift of speaking in tongues, Paul has this to say: “Now, I should like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.” Way before Paul, it was Moses who said, “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!” (Numbers 11:29).

While God has used people to prophesy about future events, the main focus of the gift is that of encouragement, hope and edification. Like all the gifts, it must be tested to ascertain if it is of the Spirit of God or from another source.

7) Gift of Discernment of Spirits: This gift enables someone to know whether another person’s deeds or words are from the Holy Spirit, from an evil spirit, or merely from that person himself or herself. Through this gift one is able to distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of error. This gift of discernment of Spirits is different from the gift of discernment or counsel which enables one to come to a clarity of God’s will in a particular situation, such as choosing one’s vocation in life or in choosing a new direction in life.

8) The Gift of Tongues: There are two different expressions of this particular gift:
· Speaking in tongues as a prayer language ((1Corinthians 14:2, 4, 5). Tongues as a prayer has been referred to as a child’s prayer language or the language of the angels. It is a gift of praise and thanksgiving in utterances other than in languages we have learned to speak. As such, it needs no interpretation. It is the heart of the person speaking to the heart of God in the Spirit (Romans 8:26-28).

· Tongues as a message: This is a message from God for the assembly and needs an interpretation so that the assembly would be able to know what God is saying to it (1 Corinthians 14:5, 22, 27-28).

9) The Gift of interpretation of Tongues: When someone speaks in tongues prophetically in the assembly, according to Paul, the group should pray for someone to interpret the prophetic message for the building up of the community. When someone gives an interpretation under the lead of the Spirit, it is not a word for word translation of the tongues but a sense of the message of God to the assembly. Like any gift, the interpretation given must be discerned by the community.

10) The Gifts of Deliverance and Exorcism: Both Jesus and the Apostles through the Gifts of Deliverance and Exorcism confronted head on the demonic power at work in the lives of people. The influence of the power of darkness in today’s society is no different than in the times of the   Apostles. In the vast majority of cases this influence is manifested in harassment and oppression. In rare situations it is true demonic possession.

The Gift of Deliverance should normally be exercised by people who are properly prepared spiritually to confront those who are discerned to being harassed or oppressed by demonic power. No one should presume to use this gift unless led by the Holy Spirit. The exercise of the Gift of Exorcism has been reserved by the church to one designated by the bishop to act in his name, because of the more serious nature of demonic possession.

There are other charismatic gifts, but this should suffice to awaken an awareness of the many marvelous ways God empowers us to help others in his name and through his power.

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