We are asked to “stir into flames “ the gift of God that we have been given by the Spirit. What does it mean to “stir into flames?” A powerful phrase of St. Paul meant to awaken us to the gifts given by the Spirit but oftentimes remain hidden and dormant. They need to be awakened through acknowledgement, reflection, gratitude and then expression. How do you express your inner gifts and talents? Do you express them ? Do you even know what they are?
We were not given a spirit of “cowardice,” says St. Paul, but a spirit of “power and love and self control.” These days of social unrest and turmoil are certainly calling us, not to be cowardly, but its opposite, courage. Once We become aware of our gifts, what’s needed next is the courage to use them... express them, to make this world more just. ALL gifts given by the Spirit can, in their own way, build up our world and advance the Kingdom of Jesus: a Kingdom of Justice, peace and truth.
Peace can’t happen if we don’t face the truth, sometimes the ugly truth, leading to action to make things right... justice... which leads to peace. Truth. Justice. Peace. And in this order. The Spirit of Jesus is breathing into our pain and divisions, compelling to awaken to the truth of what divides us as a people. Hatred and racism begin in each heart and are taught in so many insidious and inconspicuous ways. We aren’t born to hate but are taught, mostly in many subtle and hidden ways. For many of us, we were raised in an environment, including family, schools, religion, and social activities, that trained us ever so subtly, to ASSUME that certain people, races, are inferior.
And so these people are pushed down, away, segregated, becoming invisible.
Each one of us, raised in a privileged position, must name our inner gifts and have the courage to use them, being part of the solution to racism and any form of hatred. We add to the problem by being blind to our gifts, by making excuses, by refusing to keep quiet and listen, truly listen, to the people who are forced to think about the color of their skin at every waking moment. The gifts we have been given by the Spirit, and we all have them, CAN make a difference.
Whatever your gifts: of compassion, to teach, healing, organizing, writing, serving, cooking, defending, bringing together people, humor, building, investing, parenting, grandparenting, the list is endless, name the gift and use it to bring us together. You can do it; we can do it. God is waiting to see how we are going to respond to the crises in which we are living. God gives us the freedom to retreat into the background and do nothing, or to move out of ourselves and give the world the gift given to us by our God, a God of the living.