Joy is clearly one of Pope Francis’s favourite fruits of the Holy Spirit noted in Galatians.   He used it in the title of three recent documents.

  • The Joy of the Gospel is promoting the New Evangelisation.
  • The Joy of Love on family life has as its opening line “The Joy of the family is the Joy of the Church.” This document AMORIS LAETITIA is not just an idealistic presentation of a happy family but explores and comments on the reality that families face which is often far from ideal.  And yet joy and cheerful faces are essential features.
  • His latest Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exultate translated as “Rejoice and Be glad” is a call to holiness.     He writes, “The Second Vatican Council stated, ‘All the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord – each in his or her own way – to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect’.  We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us. The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them.”

Pentecost, seen as the birthday of the Church, was the occasion of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and Mary. It is also linked for us with gifts and fruits of the Spirit.  Simply put it can be said that the gifts normally noted at Confirmation; wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord) are given to us freely and/or on request.  But gifts are not something in isolation, separate from God. They are signs of the presence of God through the Spirit.

Fruits are special qualities than that are manifested in our lives because of the presence of the gifts.   Again the fruits are also signs of God’s presence.   If there is joy, there is God.  If there is love, there is God.  If there is peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness God is there.

Other gifts mentioned in the Bible are tongues, prophecy and interpretation, healing, service, teaching, leadership and more.  All this in a sense unpacks the way God is present in our lives and relationships but “each in his or her own way.”  As mothers, fathers, married or single, old or young.

As a family activity from FAMILY MATTERS magazine to consider how all this works a family could do one of the following:

  • Spend some time together to reflect, discuss and share what gifts or fruits you see in each other.
  • Let each one choose which gift they believe they need for their own lives in order to allow the fruit to grow that they wish to show forth.
  • An activity like making a collage, a poster, small gift cards or even a matching game can be done. Modern technology can also be used to make images, posters or activity cards.   Many internet resources can be downloaded too.  However, the essential element is not knowledge but understanding, making it real, personalising it and sharing the experience with one another.

That is both family catechesis and promoting the very important and necessary spirituality of family life.  In considering all these qualities one cannot but realise that this is about the Spirit of Ubuntu.

Come Holy Spirit, Spirit of Ubuntu, of humanity and care.  Fill our minds with understanding, our hearts with love, our hands with mercy and compassion for the needs of those we love and for all those in need.  Fill our lives with the joy of Jesus and may this joy be complete.   Happy Pentecost! FAMILY WEEKLY 16 MAY 2018

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