Posted on: 2015-09-09

Gifts and charism

Christianity is a religion of the edification of the spirit and not the gratification of the flesh. The Holy Spirit empowers man so that he can dominate the things of the flesh.  The apostle Paul cautioned in his epistle: "And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and receive the word of God from the Spirit too use as a sword" (Eph 6:17). No one can claim to work with the Holy Spirit if his actions have no positive impact on his existence and that of others. In the seven peak moments or sacraments of Christian life, namely Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation Penance, Sacrament of the Sick, Holy Orders, the Holy Spirit plays a pervasive role. This is without prejudice to the special nature of Confirmation in which the seven gifts of the Holy spirit are  highlighted. In it, Christians are initiated into Christian adulthood, a stage at which they are expected to burst forth with diverse charisma for God has given them diversely to everyone. "All these are the work of one and the same spirit who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses" (1Cor. 12: 11) Christians are called to do this with wisdom, insight, good counsel, knowledge, power, piety and the fear of God.

The Call to Charity

However in all this the Christians' call to charity remains paramount for love is the supreme law of Christianity   MASTER. The apostle John taught: "... let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God  for God is love" (1Jn 4:7-8). Paul, the apostle as well, declared: "If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal and I do not have love I have nothing" (1Cor. 13:1). Perhaps at no other time than this are we all challenged on the imperative and true meaning of love on the global level. A number of days ago the United Nations celebrated what was tagged "The World Day of Charity". The organization chose an unforgettable personality to drive home that message of charity namely Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She, especially, had the motivation to care for the poor and needy simply and solely because every human being bears the image and likeness of God. Although the United Nations often jettisons religious themes and personalities it simply could not resist choosing Mother Teresa. Thus it hopes to revive in the world's peoples, sentiments of solidarity and compassion and make more people their brothers' keepers. This is certainly a commendable initiative because no matter how well-organized and well-intentioned world governments may be they will never be able to fully cater for all the needs of every individual needy person except every individual takes up the challenge. In the end all the technology of our world may make us neighbors but only love can make us brothers and sisters.

Live and let live

The  World day of Charity could not have been more timely. Today the world is hemorrhaging from many tragedies and crises. Poverty, disease, war, bombings, explosions, ethnic clashes, air, land and sea accidents from desperate attempts to migrate to other lands present us with gory stories of human misery and challenge our collective sanity as a human race. The sea of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe, reaching over 300,000 people with well over 20 thousand already killed in the attempt has left even the world's top leaders scratching their heads for solutions. Millions are displaced and live in misery in many countries of the world Yet we live in a world that could well cope with the needs of everyone. What needs to be regulated  and checked is the greed of countries, institutions and individuals, who steal the rights of others to a dignified existence. If truly all human beings are homo sapiens, called to live, not by instinct but by reason, we would do all we can to help others to live a life of dignity as God's children. This is the call of Pope Francis to all parishes in Rome and all over the world to welcome refugees and migrants with compassion while respecting their individuality  and religion. Heeding this call to compassion helps to re-humanize those who heed it for compassion is indeed the antitoxin of the soul.

When I was hungry

The refugee situation is  indeed a recurring moment of history. For so many years the people of God in the Bible  sojourned in foreign lands. However they were not mere parasites. They did contribute to the building of the nations who hosted them. Many great nations of the world today too are composed of migrants and refugees who, having been welcomed by their hosts, are now a great source of pride to those nations. Perhaps the final scorecard of Judgment Day is the extra incentive for Christians. The King will be uncompromising with his inquiry about those who show up in our space needing succor and love. That scorecard includes the obligation of giving shelter to the homeless, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Jesus will say "The king will answer them: 'Truly, I say to you, whatever you did not do for one of these little ones, you did not do for me'" (Matt 25). Maybe the final word here ought to be what has often been said. "The level of compassion in the world is equal to the level of cruelty. It is left for those who believe in the love to keep tipping the balance in love's favor". And that in itself is the work of the Holy Spirit.