In our gospel this weekend, Jesus tells Mary his mother that his hour had not yet come.
But now it has!
That’s right — You are now living in the Hour of Jesus!
It is still his time! It is the Hour of the Church. It is the Hour of souls being saved from the grasp of the Devil. The Hour for the proclamation of God’s victory through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! The Hour for dispensing the healing power of the Sacraments! The Hour for conviction and conversion. Of sacrificial service. The Hour for bold, fearless exhortation!
We are living in the Hour of Jesus!
And Jesus says to His Church today, even as he did to those servers at the Wedding in Cana: “Fill the jars with water. I mean to work a sign. I mean to bring about a great wonder, so that my disciples may begin to believe in Me.”
In turning the water into wine at Cana — in submitting to the intercession of his Mother, Mary — Jesus inaugurated His Hour.
And even though the world might think Christian is over and done with… that it’s dying out — we all know: It’s not over.
And now, we are invited to be a part of that holiest Hour with Him.
Are you ready?
We are being prepared for the Church’s finest hour! An hour of great holiness and sacrifice. An hour of purification and evangelization, of great signs and wonders.
The prayer Pope St. John XXIII offered the Church at the start of the Second Vatican Council comes to mind:
“Lord, renew your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost!”
I firmly believe this is happening. I believe that the Holy Spirit is being unleashed in this Hour — the Love of God the Father is currently being poured out into our hearts — Power from on high is clothing us by the dying and rising of Jesus!
This is the Hour for Gifts from God!
Gifts of the Holy Spirit!
“No more shall people call you “Forsaken,”
or your land “Desolate,”
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you!”
Do you hear that?
Our God delights in us, and therefore — He means to shower us with gifts that will help us to BE THE CHURCH…. To REALLY live out and reveal the Kingdom of Heaven here and now.
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t worship a helpless God!
Modern man has tried his best to create a God who is helpless to act in this world. A God whose hour has not yet come and probably never will.
But Jesus is busy transforming water into wine! He’s actively forgiving, actively choosing and raising people up for ministry. He is proclaiming liberty! He is shielding us from shame and leading us deep into prayerful intimacy with the Father.
And He is actively distributing incredible supernatural spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit that will enable and empower us to share His presence and His message with all the people in our lives.
The Church’s Tradition calls these spiritual gifts “charisms.”
The primary text from Sacred Scripture where we learn about the various charisms happens to be our second reading this weekend — Chapter 12 from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
another, the expression of knowledge
another, gifts of healing
another, mighty deeds;
another, discernment of spirits;
another, varieties of tongues;
another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
What is the purpose of these free gifts from God… these charisms?
Thankfully, St. Paul gives us a clear answer to this question later in chapter 14 of this same letter: “Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.”
This is key. The charisms are distributed — not for our own glory, not to attract praise or recognition, not to demonstrate the particular holiness of this person or that — No! The only reason God gives any of us a gift — is for the building up of the Church!
St. Peter in one of his letters echoes Paul’s teaching when he writes: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
All of this is to say — the supernatural spiritual gifts are freely given for God’s glory in the Church. For His worship and praise! They’re meant to help us proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and to convince the world that He is real, that He saves us from sin and death, and that He loves us with an everlasting love.
It’s like what we sang in our Psalm refrain over and over: “Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.”
The charisms… the spiritual gifts of the Spirit are not natural talents. They are gifts given so that we might, together as many parts of one Body, in a beautifully diverse way, proclaim all the marvelous deeds of our God!
But what ARE the gifts, exactly? What do they empower us to do?
You may remember that in my homily last week, I spoke specifically about the gifts of miracles and of healing — both bodily and spiritual. This week, let’s look at another couple of the spiritual gifts Paul mentioned in his list.
The gifts we’ll look at are those of “knowledge” and “prophecy,” which are closely related.
One writer defines “prophecy” as an “inspired message that carries with it the creative, transforming power of the Kingdom of God.” It’s a sharing of God’s heart, a word of knowledge, a meaningful insight to be shared.
Sometimes prophetic knowledge comes in the form of an image that emerges in our mind’s eye or perhaps a vision we mysteriously receive that we probably don’t fully understand.
I recently had a personal experience of this sort of thing that I’ll venture to share. Over Christmas break, I watched a documentary called “Fearless” on YouTube, where these two guys literally sat down and simply asked God who they should go visit and pray for. When I saw this, I thought — that seems pretty easy… so I tried it out myself and asked the Lord point blank:
“Lord, what should I do today? Is there someone You want me to visit or pray for? Show me!”
To my shock, I got an answer.
First a name, and then an image of a particular retired priest came to mind who I hadn’t thought about in a very long time.
I shrugged it off at first, saying it was probably just my imagination. But then I realized… No! I need to pay attention to this! This is still Jesus’ Hour, isn’t it? He’s still speaking, isn’t he? Still working signs, right?
So I found out which nursing home this priest was in, took a risk, and went to visit him.
I won’t going into detail, but suffice to say: It was AWESOME…
Ok… maybe this sounds a little weird to you?
Sure — but I happen to think these sorts of experiences are actually very common in a normal, Christian experience. When we make time for silence and prayer — if we dispose ourselves and really ask God: “What is it You are telling me, Lord? Show me Lord!” — We can trust that He will speak!
How many times in our lives has someone said something to us that seemed way too perfectly timed — it was the exact thing we needed to hear. Afterwards, the person often says they felt compelled to share that word with us. Well — They were being prophetic. They were imparting knowledge that even they didn’t fully understand at the time!
Our Tradition is filled with reliable stories about prophetic knowledge, and often enough, in much more dramatic and impressive forms.
We might think about famous saints like St. John Vianney or St. Padre Pio who could apparently “read” people’s souls in the confessional — they received words of knowledge about the state of souls, and used that information to provide greater healing, to invite deeper, more sincere repentance.
One time, a man came to Padre Pio asking if his home would be destroyed in one of the many terrible bombings of World War II. The saint, with eyes filled with tears as if he could see it all happening right in front of him, said that many homes and churches would indeed be destroyed — but that this man’s house would remain safely standing.
Sure enough — Padre Pio’s prophecy came true.
Another saint with prophetic gifts — St. Anthony Mary Claret — once scheduled a parish mission during the height of harvest time.
Understandably enough, all the famers were afraid they’d end up losing their crops if they set aside their work to go to this parish mission. But St. Anthony Mary Claret prophesied that if the farmers came to church, despite their fears, their crops would be blessed — But… if they chose not to come… their crops would be destroyed.
Sure enough, a freak ice storm blew up just two days later, and destroyed all the crops of those farmers who stayed home. The crops of those who had came to Church, however, were not only NOT destroyed, but actually yielded much more than expected.
Maybe Fr Kevin and I can try prophesying something like that the next time we invite you all to one of our talks?
But in all seriousness — prophecy and other spiritual gifts don’t have to be so dramatic, and they certainly aren’t supposed to be restricted to the lives of world-famous saints.
They are supposed to be normal!
I was recently on a Zoom call with a friend, and his little girl happened to be on the call with him, listening to me talk about some struggle I was dealing with. At one point, I said that I just felt so stupid, and the little girl jumped in and said so peacefully, so confidently, and so gently:
“You’re not stupid. You are loved.”
THAT, I believe, was a real, prophetic word from God. And this little tiny beautiful soul of a child was the instrument, the conduit, for the Lord to speak to me. She received the gift, and shared the truth that the Holy Spirit wanted her to say. Hopefully, He speaks to you through her as well!
“You’re not stupid. You are loved.”
My point here is simple: God is still blessing us with supernatural gifts! Jesus is still transforming water into wine! God is still speaking to us! It is still His Hour!
Listen again to that first reading from Isaiah:
“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.”
So if and when God speaks to you — listen to Mother Mary’s words:
“Do whatever he tells you!”
Do whatever the Spirit tells you! And Jesus might just bring about a great sign that reveals His glory. Remember — Jesus himself told us: “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
So don’t be afraid. Don’t be weirded out by the Holy Spirit. Instead, be radically open to whatever gifts the Holy Spirit eagerly desires to give you.