D. G. Phillips
Vogler’s Cove and West Dublin August 16 AD 2009
1 Cor 12:1f St. Luke 19:41f
Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would
not have you ignorant...
Over the past seven weeks we have been looking at
the reform of our loves. We learned it is about humbling of
ourselves before God and neighbour (and then all pride and envy of
our neighbour is undone). We learned that it is about the recovery
of spiritedness in the soul (removing the obstacles of wrong kinds
of fear of God and neighbour that hold us back or putting an end to
wrath). We learned that it involves checking our appetites for
material riches, food and drink, and sex – you can figure it out
with your reason what is appropriate, you don’t need the Bible to
tell you – if you really think about it and love of God and
neighbour is your guide.
At the early stages of the Christian’s journey to
God, this introspection, this checking of how we are spending our
desire, is important if we are to grow in the Christian life, to
Just as we each grew up and assumed greater and
greater responsibilities as teens, as young adults and as mature
adults, this whole experience of how we deal with earthly loves is a
kind of testing of our faithfulness. Are we ready to receive the
keys to move higher on the wings of desire, to enter into a
divine-human marriage, to begin living in the mansions of the
kingdom prepared for us even now? Our Gospel concluded last week,
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in
much; and he that is unrighteous in that which is least is
unrighteous also in much. How could God trust us with the
higher things if we show ourselves simply immersed in and distracted
and even unfaithful in earthly things? Like leaky buckets,
receiving water at a well and then just spilling it all on the earth
before we even get it home to drink deeply from it.
But we are looking higher. And our
desire, given by God, will find its way, will lead us to that higher
Remember that the purifying of our loves,
requires that we look inwardly at ourselves, to take off the mask,
the face we present to others and even to ourselves of who we are.
We take off the mask to really look at what is motivating us – are
we ravenous wolves? and what is our appetite really for? What is
going on in our hearts? What is the content of our imaginations,
what are we thinking about as we go about doing our daily tasks, or
driving on the road, or as we lie in our beds at night before going
In the Gospel today, Jesus comes near the city of
AND when he was come near, he beheld the
city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou,
at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy
peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
But we, all these year later, do know what makes
for peace – it is about being reconciled with God and neighbour, and
then, by grace, ordering our loves, so that our actions are in
accord with the will of God. As we call upon him in prayer, he
enters our hearts and cleanses the Temple that is our body that He
might dwell there more fully within us. And the more this
happens, the more our earthly loves are perfected, His presence
driving out our foolishness, the commotion inwardly becomes a calm.
And then, the most miraculous things are promised. We become humble
listeners of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in our hearts, where he
promises to teach us daily.
And he went into the temple, and began to cast
out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them,
It is written, “My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it
a den of thieves.” And he taught daily in the temple.
And as we choose to decrease, to humble ourselves
that Jesus’ voice may increase, as we acknowledge that Jesus is
Lord, we are infilled more and more with His Spirit.
What will this mean for us?
In our Epistle today, St. Paul explains what will
happen when we are infilled with the Spirit of Christ…
CONCERNING spiritual gifts, brethren, I would
not have you ignorant.
to one is given by the Spirit the word of
wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same
Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the
gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working
of miracles; to another prophecy; to another
discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues;
to another the interpretation of tongues.
All of these spiritual gifts are the enlightening
of our minds and hearts by God. These gifts come to us inwardly.
We become aware of them before anyone else knows of them. Each of
us must decide what to do with the gift.
There is a danger that we might fail to share the
gift we receive with others, simply to become a dead end of the
grace given. There is also a danger we might fail to acknowledge
the gift as being from above – to become thieves of grace. Both
these responses would be mistakes that would result in the cessation
of the gift. So we pray as we receive gifts for the grace to remain
humble in heart, dependent on Christ, and also for the wisdom to
know how to share it in a way that will give glory to God.
The gifts of the Spirit – wisdom, knowledge,
faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues
and interpretation of tongues – all these are given not just to
build up an individual, but for the good of the Church:
St. Paul says, the manifestation of the Spirit
is given to every man to profit withal.
No one person has all of the gifts, because God
wants us to depend upon one another, to build up one another in
love. We need each other in this small congregation – each church
in our parish needs each other church in this parish, this parish
needs the neighbouring parish, our parishes need the diocese, the
diocese needs the Anglican communion, and the Anglican Communion
needs the wider catholic Church. The gifts are spread among us.
This is wonderful, really, how God does this. No person is an
The peace that God wants to bring us is not just
a peace within each of our hearts, but a peace which comes with each
other in the Church as we share and listen to each other and enjoy
one another in love.
One final word.
We are beginning to be opened up to something new
today in the readings and in the weeks to come.
It is about knowing the things which belong
It is to enter into God’s rest – to begin to
taste, not just the active life of doing things that reveal our love
of God and neighbour outwardly in our lives, but something beyond
We are beginning to learn of a new way of being
Christian. It is the contemplative life, the life that rests
in the knowledge and love of God, and rests while a kind of steady
inward vision is opening up for us. We are allowing Christ to dwell
in us and all our earthly strivings begin to be transformed into a
heavenly resting. Joy is being brought to birth in us as we spend
more time thinking upon the wonders of God’s creation, thinking with
gratitude upon God’s goodness and providential care of us, enjoying
more a resting in worship with others and by ourselves, recognizing
that resting in worship as really the culmination of what it means
to be human, to be brothers and sisters of Jesus, with a heavenly
Father who turns the light of His countenance upon us and makes us
whole as we look upon Him.
We are learning higher things about the Christian
life – this is the life of heaven, and may God bring us there today
and open up to us that life more and more.
LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the
prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their
petitions make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.