When the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit radiate from earthen vessels

Holy Spirit Saint Peter Window

Today’s Gospel from John 14:15-21 — Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Jesus doesn’t say: “Manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit!” No. You know why? Because those come about naturally, as it were, when we are tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, so, O.K., we can learn about all the fruits, love them, assent to them, but it’s really stupid to try to bring them about on our own as if we ourselves were the Holy Spirit. Rejoice in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but don’t put the cart before the horse.

Jesus doesn’t say: “Give yourselves the gifts of the Holy Spirit!” Although you would think He did say that the way some people think that they can go about acquiring those gifts if only they are really smart and prudent and whatever all without the Holy Spirit. No. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts, and like any otherwise gratia gratis data (grace freely given) such as the gift of tongues or the gift of prophesy, cannot be practiced because, you know, they are a gift. They flow naturally, as it were, when we are tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. We can learn about them, love them, assent to them, but it’s really stupid to try to bring them about on our own as if ourselves were the Holy Spirit. Rejoice in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but don’t put the cart before the horse.

Jesus did say that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things, everything that He taught us, and Jesus also gave us the way to be available to the workings of the Holy Spirit. We are, with the Holy Spirit, to set about keeping the commandments. Then we find that that is impossible for us on our own and, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are to assent to dying to ourselves, crucified to the world, to live only for Christ Jesus. And this battle ground is the field of action of the Holy Spirit who sets about forming us into the image of Jesus, making us members of the Body of Christ. And in all that mayhem of the battle, that is when we see the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit shine. The horse is keeping the commandments with the grace of the Holy Spirit; the cart is the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Living the fruits and gifts are hugely encouraging for us to keep the commandments, yes, but they come from the Holy Spirit.

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