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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gifts given and used wisely

Today, the Church celebrated our belief that our God is one, made known to us in three persons.  This truth was seen in the giving of the Spirit's gifts as some of the young people in this place celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The Spirit's gifts help us to understand the various moments of our lives in the light of faith.

Gifts of the Spirit

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.  Still in the light of the Easter season which concluded last week with the celebration of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday focuses our attention on the love that God has for us, his beloved children.  At the beginning of creation, it was God the Father who formed the earth and all the things that make it possible for us to live and flourish.  In today's first reading, we heard the account of God revealing his name to Moses (Ex 34:4-9): yet another step along the path of God communicating with mankind and mankind getting to know God.  In time, God showed himself to us in the person of Jesus, and after Jesus had returned to the Father, God sent the Holy Spirit: the third way in which God is made known to us.  The Holy Spirit lives and breathes among us even today, accompanying us at every step of life’s journey, showing us the way that will lead us to the fullness of life and happiness in heaven.

In order to help us find our way, the Spirit gives us gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.  These gifts are received in the Sacrament of Confirmation and they remain with us for the rest of our lives.  At certain moments, when these gifts are needed, the Spirit will awaken them within our hearts so that we will be able to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ.

When we first receive these gifts, it may be difficult for us to recognize them at work, but they are present.  For example, it is the gift of fortitude that helps us to find the courage to speak openly about our faith and to tell others about who Jesus is and how we have recognized his presence in our lives.  We must never be afraid to tell others about Jesus, for we never know who might be listening, and we have no idea about the questions that are being asked in other people’s hearts. 

Today’s gospel gives us the example of someone who wanted very earnestly to learn about God, but Nicodemus used to come to Jesus in the dark of night to ask his questions.  If we are courageous enough to help others to come to know Jesus, they too will discover the truth that we already know: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

The truth contained in these words is continually discovered in the hearts of all believers.  As we continue to live our lives, God reveals his love to us little by little, day after day, and having discovered God’s love in our lives, we cannot keep it hidden.  Instead, he asks us to share the good news with those we meet so that they too can experience the joy of knowing him.

Yesterday morning, some young people of our parish celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation.  As I witnessed this precious moment in their lives, I also thought back to the day of my own Confirmation.  Ever since that day, I have sought to share the good news of the gospel with those I have met, in various places, in all kinds of circumstances, in different moments of people’s lives.  Eventually, God called me to be a priest. He has put me in places where people need to feel the touch of his hands through mine, in circumstances where people need to hear his words of wisdom through my voice, in situations where people need to be looked upon with his loving gaze through my eyes.

God is now calling me to go to other communities, to places where others need to hear his wisdom spoken through my words.  Two of the three faith communities I am being called to serve (beginning in July) will soon have to make some very difficult decisions: there are presently two places of worship in Elliot Lake, but for the good of all Catholics in that place, it will soon be necessary for all the Catholics of that place to gather in one place to pray.  Through the person of our Bishop, God is entrusting me with the task of walking with them, helping them to make wise decisions for the good of all those who will gather in prayer.

God is also calling Father Francis Ezenezi to journey with you from now on.  He will bring his own gifts, talents and strengths and will offer them to you.  Accept them gratefully and do everything that you can to help him to be a joyful and faithful witness of Jesus in the midst of this faith community.  I know that you will, because you welcomed me when I first arrived.  Together we have grown, and we will continue to grow each day, learning from one another how to recognize the gifts that the Spirit has given, how God is present among us and how to share the good news of our faith with everyone we encounter.
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