Friday, June 12, 2015

Bishop’s Note: June 11, 2015 Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Understanding

Bishop Eric Menees

During this Season after Pentecost – often referred to as “Ordinary Time” – I am embarking on an examination of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are freely given to believers at baptism with the general graces of the Lord, and then boldly given at confirmation or the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

What might be referred to as “Foundational gifts,” are those that the Prophet Isaiah speaks of: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3a ESV)  The seven foundational gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Might (fortitude), Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

These gifts are freely given by God the Holy Spirit and are provided to the believer so that we may fulfill the purpose of our lives, which is to Love and Serve the Lord.  

The second of these gifts is Understanding.  This gift of the Holy Spirit opens our minds to the understanding of Divine Truth as revealed in the Word of the Lord and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Take, for example, the way you can be reading the Word of God and then, all of a sudden, that passage which you’ve read a hundred times leaps off the page with a whole new meaningfulness to you.  This past Sunday while studying for my sermon, I read from the Gospel of Mark: “[21] And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21 ESV)  In the past, while reading this scripture, I always understood the second “they” as Jesus’ family. But this week, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me understanding to recognize the second “they” was the detractors of Jesus.  Thus, Jesus’ family went up to aid Jesus, to check on him and to protect him.

God gives us the gift of the Understanding so that God may be glorified! This is not understanding so that we may simply be enriched or somehow made better.  This is not the understanding that God gives where we have a deeper understanding about a math problem or a problem at work.  This is Understanding of, and a deeper perception of, God’s divine love for us – His love for YOU!

I pray that God may grant us this Understanding, so that we may better serve Him and better love our neighbor!

“God the Holy Spirit, we give you thanks and praise for the gift of wisdom and understanding.  Enlighten our hearts and minds to better love and know you for who you are as the almighty and glorious Lord and creator of all live and grace.” Amen!

I pray you all a blessed Lord’s Day!

Catechism Questions 121 - 123

121.    What grace does God give to you in absolution?
In absolution, God conveys to me his pardon through the cross, thus declaring to me reconciliation and peace with him, and bestowing upon me the assurance of his grace and salvation.

122.    What is ordination?
Through prayer and the laying on of the bishop’s hands, ordination consecrates, authorizes, and empowers persons called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. (1 Timothy 1:5; 5:22; Acts 6:6)

123.    What grace does God give in ordination?

In ordination, God confirms the gifts and calling of the candidates, conveys the gift of the Holy Spirit for the office and work of bishop, priest or deacon, and sets them apart to act on behalf of the Church and in the name of Christ.

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