The Epistle I Corinthians Ch 12 V.1
Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed. And that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestations of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom: to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit: to another faith by the same Spirit: to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit: to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
How many of us have ever felt that we’ve been touched by the Holy Spirit? I’ve known many people who have had such experiences and they usually describe them in pretty much the same way. They feel a “power” of some kind, then a flash of heat and sometimes a trembling. On occasion, the experience is one of complete and utter peace. In almost every case, the experience is very emotional, on an almost indescribable level.
We sometimes hear of other sorts of experiences; speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, words of prophecy. These experiences are also very emotional and they are usually spontaneous, seemingly random; though some people claim that they are able to call on the Holy Spirit almost on command.
But St. Paul offers us another view of how the Holy Spirit works, and how often. According to the Apostle, the Holy Spirit is far from random. Rather, the Holy Spirit is constant; working consistently through us in our individual gifts and talents that are, upon first examination, seemingly ordinary. But whether we experience the emotional or the ordinary, still we are all the recipients of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is basically God manifesting His continuing presence here on Earth. In the Old Testament, we read about how God appeared and talked to Moses at various times and places, usually on some mountain. We also know that God further manifested Himself through His Incarnation, Jesus Christ, at which time He took on a fully human form. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is the final and continuing manifestation of God, by which we receive His gifts and His Grace. So when we experience the Holy Spirit, we experience God. How can that not be emotional? How can that not be extraordinary?
Indeed St. Paul would seem to argue that these gifts are, in fact, most extraordinary. Just look at the list of these gifts that he offers; Healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, diverse tongues; All very extraordinary, and all things that we don’t see every day.
But St. Paul also gives us this little thought to chew on; But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. Given to every man? Well then why aren’t we all jumping up and speaking in tongues or healing people? I know that I’ve made any number of predictions that didn’t come true, particularly in my former, secular occupation when I was required to do budget projections. So, why didn’t I receive the gift of prophecy?
Well St. Paul gives us two answers to this question. First there’s this; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. So we’re not meant to all receive every one of these gifts. The Holy Spirit will divide them up among us, being sure to distribute each gift according to our ability to handle them, and use them, and to the particular need for that gift. This shows us the wisdom of God, because who of us could handle the emotions of all of these experiences? And so I didn’t worry about not being a prophet because that wasn’t the particular gift that the Holy Spirit had given me. Of course, that also meant that I needed to find a different way to do those budget projections.
The next answer that St. Paul gives us is in these three verses; Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. Diversities of gifts, Differences of administrations; Diversities of operations. There are all kinds of gifts. Again, we are given to know some of these; the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, of faith. In comparison with the other list, these hardly seem extraordinary. Certainly, they seem less emotional. But they are gifts of the Holy Spirit nonetheless. And they are also distributed among us just as surely as the others.
The point of this is that we are all recipients of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whether we have one of those emotional experiences or not. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of God here on Earth. And since God is with us, everywhere, at all times, it stands to reason that we are also constantly receiving those gifts, whether we realize them or not.
Diversities of gifts, Differences of administrations; Diversities of operations. Look around you, at each other. Each one of us has one of those gifts. When I put my hands on a piano or organ the sound that results would make dogs cringe; But our Organist and Choirmaster, James Hopkins, is able to play so gloriously, and to likewise direct the choir, that all of us are inspired to raise our voices to God in praise and thanksgiving.
I’ve see the care with which the Sacristans perform their services whenever they are called upon. I’ve see some of the men of this parish serving at Mass and participating at Morning Prayer. Each of you are inspired to take on these operations, these administrations, these diversities of gifts. Ever wonder why? Or by whom you are so inspired?
You see, because God is with us everywhere, at all times, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are also with us; in the seemingly ordinary as well as the extraordinary. We find these gifts all around us as well as within us; in a child’s smile, in the love of a pet, even in just meeting here with our brothers and sisters in Christ every week. All of these experiences inspire thoughts and emotions in us; the most positive of which can only be described as a gift.
This is part of what St. Paul means when he says that he doesn’t want us to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. They are all around us, in us and in each other. This means that not only should we realize and be thankful for the gifts bestowed upon us, but also for those gifts that others possess as well.
We need to look around us and within ourselves. We need to realize that each of us is blessed continually with a gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to recognize that our brothers and sisters are as well. We need to remember that these gifts come in many different forms and fashions; the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. And we must remember all of this so that we are not ignorant of the fact that we are forever surrounded, infused, and inspired by these gifts; the spiritual gifts of God.