Bishop Eric Menees
As we continue our examination of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we come to the one that has come most naturally to me - Exhortation. The word exhortation comes from the Greek word parakaleo (παρακαλέω), which St. Paul also includes as a gift in his letter to the Romans in chapter 12, verse 8. Parakaleo means to: “ appeal to, urge, exhort, or to encourage” someone to take a certain action. If we try to motivate someone to be kind to another person, we are exhorting him or her to action.
A clear example of this comes from St. Paul's second letter to his apprentice Timothy, when he exhorts him to: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The one gifted with exhortation encourages people to live godly, loving lives that will be pleasing to the Lord. Equally important though, is that the one gifted with Exhortation also provides ways for people to live into the exhortation.
When I was a high school student, Fr. David Heaney exhorted me to pursue a calling to the priesthood. In doing so, he invited me to meet with him regularly, study the scriptures together, and to make pastoral visits with him. The summer of my Senior year of High School he encouraged me to volunteer at the local hospital as a lay pastoral visitor. There I discovered that I had a gift for being with people in difficult times and encouraging them to trust in the Lord and to work hard on their recovery. I would regularly meet with Fr. David after those visits to debrief and discover what God the Holy Spirit was doing in those visits, both with the patient and with me.
Ultimately, I pray that all of us in the Diocese of San Joaquin will ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of Exhortation, so that we may all live into the Mission of the Diocese:
"To equip, train, support and encourage clergy and lay leaders to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ." And to that I say AMEN!
I pray you all a blessed week!
Catechism Questions 149-152
149. What is prayer?
Prayer is turning my heart toward God, to converse with him in worship. (Psalm 122, 123)
150. What should you seek in prayer?
In prayer I should seek the joy of fellowship with God, who made me for fellowship with him. (1 Chronicles 16:28-30; Psalm 96; John 17; Revelation 22:17)
151. What is fellowship with God?
Fellowship with God in prayer is relating to him as his children, as we approach the light and glory of his throne. (Revelation 7:9-17)
152. How can you have fellowship with God?
Through the death of Jesus as both High Priest and sacrifice, and in his Holy Spirit, I have fellowship with God in Word, Sacrament, and prayer. (Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 1:1-4)