Gifts and Graces

This last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, and one of the readings reminded me of a rare moment in Religious Education this year, when suddenly I had all of the boys’ silent attention, all at once.  I had been trying to sum up for them all of the gifts God as a father gives us.  I brought up again the fact that God had planned and wanted them, each individual one of them, to exist since before the beginning of time (could they not remember this or did they just like hearing it repeatedly?).

We went on to talk about the gifts of people in their lives, about opportunities to serve, and about the talents they themselves have to offer to others.  (This is always the point when most of the boys mention baseball, but we talked about other talents as well.)

The silence fell when I said, “But God gave you other gifts, gifts that you may never even have thought of or noticed before.  Each of you was born with at least one grace, one ability to do or be good that comes easily to you, and not to others.”  I proceeded to give them the example of my mother.

Take my mother (please don’t!).  She has a wonderful ability to love, accept and appreciate people.  I don’t mean just her children, I mean people.  Wherever she goes, people talk to her.  They can see in her eyes the automatic understanding and sympathy that she has for them.  They can’t help talking.  She?  She feels like she knows them.  She listens, and she owns a humility that pre-empts any shyness in her response.  If you are with her, you will think she does know them, only later to find that, like as not, she never met them before.

This can cause her some problems.  The lady behind her in the line who decides to tell my mother her life story — well, it’s hard to move on when that story just needs to be told.  Sometimes it has been hard for my mother to find friends who are as interested in listening to her as they are in unburdening themselves.

Here’s the thing.  This all comes naturally to her.  She was made this way, and as she has matured and deepened spiritually, she’s just becoming more ‘like that’.  This is her special grace from God, and I think is born in some way from a deep humility which is also His gift.

The thing is, we all have some grace like this, though perhaps like the boys in my class, we are astonished at the thought of it.  It made them think of the people they know, a grandma, or a father or mother.  As we talked about gifts they might have, of teaching others, giving people good advice, standing up for friends or helping people feel better, I could see that they had never thought of themselves in this way before.

What a thing to make us humble, and grateful!  As we stumble along the path to holiness, how lovely to know that some things God has made easy for us.  He has designed us in this special way, with gifts to offer to others on the way.

Just another reason for hope…break out the champagne!


“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-11


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