The gift of WISDOM helps us learn life-long lessons from the Covid19 crisis. God invites us to consider wisely all that has been happening and to weigh up the choices we make.
The Spirit brings the gift of UNDERSTANDING. Everywhere there are statistics, economic forecasts, “R numbers”, the “science”. Experts offer advice; governments interpret, sometimes differently. The Spirit invites us to make personal sacrifices on the understanding that we are protecting health and saving lives. We deny ourselves for the sake of those who are most vulnerable and for the Common Good.
The Spirit gives the gift of KNOWLEDGE. As we reflect wisely on all that is happening, we get to know what God is asking of us at this time. These days of seclusion are opportunities to grow in our love of God. By prayer and reflection on God’s Word, we can gain insight and self-knowledge to evaluate our lives in relation to God and in relation to others.
The Spirit gives the gift of RIGHT JUDGEMENT, sometimes called the gift of COUNSEL. This gift helps us to make choices – everyday choices, and bigger, “life choices” about the direction we are taking for the future. When this crisis is over, what judgments will we have made – will we simply go back to the way we have always been, or will we have discerned more clearly the pathway that God is offering us?
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of FORTITUDE, COURAGE to do what is right. The pandemic has brought great suffering to many families whose loved ones have died because of the virus. In many cases, it was not possible to be by their side or to present at their funeral. God hears a great cry of grief coming from his children. God knows how much we need strength, courage, consolation, and comfort at this time.
The Spirit gives the gift of REVERENCE or PIETY, helping us to turn to God in prayer as we walk through this valley of tears. We miss being able to gather in the normal way for the Eucharist and other sacraments. Still, we have found new ways to link with each other and to praise, thank, and adore God. Prayer has flooded the digital highways – and opened up new opportunities for mission and outreach which can continue when this is all over.
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of the FEAR OF THE LORD – not in the sense of being frightened of God – but in the capacity to be able to stand back with WONDER AND AWE IN GOD’S PRESENCE. This springtime, many of us have noticed in a new way the colors and sounds of nature. We have found time to pause, to walk, to savour the beauty of creation. We have become alert to God’s presence in the lonely and the suffering. May we be more aware of God’s presence and give thanks, praise God in the heavens, in the stars, in all God’s creatures. May these days help us to be more compassionate and to protect the God-given gifts of our common home.
It is Pentecost 2020. As lockdown is eased, the People of God emerge, knowing that the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts for every day, as St Paul puts it: “a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people”. Amen. Come Holy Spirit.
Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore, and Primate of All Ireland.