Happy Birthday, Church! That's right. Today is the Church's 1981st birthday. The Spirit has been sent into the Church and the world after Jesus' ascension to the Father. And with the Spirit comes seven amazing gifts: gifts that we receive not only to hold on to, but to continue giving as well. Our Birthday gifts aren't wrapped in shiny paper; even under normal circumstances they may not be returned. They are truly one-size-fits-all; they are ours if we will receive them. And they shatter division and set us ablaze for proclaiming the unity that Christ desires for the Church.
Look! We've received lovely gifts: wisdom which helps us know when to speak and when to be silent, understanding which helps us be far more compassionate than we'd otherwise be, counsel which proves we are never alone in this walk toward heaven, knowledge which enables sound decisions, fortitude which counteracts doubt and despair, piety which moves our heart towards God authentically, and fear of the Lord, which reminds us that there is something greater than me and my judgment.
But these birthday gifts aren't meant to be received and placed on a shelf. No, they are definitely ripe for re-gifting. Set ablaze with faith, then, let us commit ourselves on this our birthday to offer wisdom wisely, to coax others to understanding, to counsel others with the wisdom of the Most High, to teach others helpful knowledge, to strengthen the weak in their resolve or suffering, and show others the truly marvelous majesty of God.
These seven gifts are given ever so freely, just like stalks of wheat and bunches of grapes, given by God for us to shape and change into bread and wine, precisely so that we can give back to Him not only bread and wine, impressive as that is, but so that we can offer the Body and Blood of the Son to the Father for the redemption of our sins.
Do we have the fire of the Spirit upon and within us? Will we bridge the barriers of language with these gifts? Will our faith in the resurrection make us burn to the glory of God? We have received eternal gifts for our birthday. Enough talk: let's put them to good use to the glory of God!