August 21, 2022
How can we properly appreciate the magnificent creation that God has made for us, yet without making it an idol? And how can we discern what ideas are in accord with the Revelation Jesus has given us? The Gift of Knowledge sheds light on both of these.
This is the seventh in a series of nine homilies on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The following are the links to all the homilies in this series:
1st – The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
2nd – The Gift of Fear of the Lord
3rd – The Gift of Piety
4th – The Gift of Fortitude
5th – The Gift of Understanding
6th – The Gift of Counsel
7th – The Gift of Knowledge
8th – The Gift of Wisdom
9th – Searching for Wisdom
- Father’s homily gives clarity on how to distinguish between the Holy Spirit gifts of understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and counsel.
- The gift of knowledge helps to properly comprehend all created things, including human ideas about faith and morals, to protect us against error.
- This gift of knowledge enables us to see our own actions and the light of God with a spirit of humility in addition to understanding that this world cannot provide our ultimate happiness.
- This spiritual gift helps us to navigate this world to follow Jesus with the doctrine and the morality that leads to salvation.
This is a computer-generated transcription that has been included to make the homily searchable. It has not been verified by the author.
“Someone asked, Lord will only a few people be saved? Jesus responded, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” Jesus in the Gospel is making us aware of His teaching us the path of life, where to go to be safe, because He’s also making us aware that there’s so many lies, and dead ends and traps that the enemy sets for us. And it’s so easy to get off on the wrong path. That in the second reading, we heard, “you have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children. My son do not disdain the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when we reproved by him, for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. He scourges every son he acknowledges. And through your trials as discipline, God treats you as sons.” So, He’s helping us to understand the trials we face in life, that can be very discouraging for us. And even we feel like they are a sign that God has abandoned us or is punishing us. But he sees the more as actually a help of God’s mercy, to guide us and disciplining us. So, these are just some examples of the way that Scripture is always enlightening us about how we should live in this world, to be saved. And we’ve been considering how the gifts of the Holy Spirit give us their special, special several gifts. Holy Spirit gives us a supernatural light to help us on this path. And, we saw recently the gift of understanding, also called the gift of intelligence. And last week, we saw the gift of counsel. And before we move on to the sixth of those gifts today, the gift of knowledge, it might be good to try to understand how to distinguish, because those sound very, very similar. So, understanding and counsel and knowledge and wisdom. And it might seem like they’re all kind of running together. So, what’s the difference between those gifts? St. Thomas says, “all these four gifts, are ordained to supernatural knowledge, founded in our faith.” So, all these four gifts are about supernatural knowledge, but in different ways. And so, you don’t have to remember all these distinctions. But it can be helpful to see the different ways that the Holy Spirit enlightens us. And St. Thomas cites a passage from St. Gregory that I think can be helpful because it shows us to understand these different gifts, it can be helpful to see what is the opposite. So, he says, this is from St. Gregory, “Now wisdom is contrary to…” and you can just think to yourself, you don’t have to answer out loud but what is the opposite of wisdom. He says, “it’s a folly, or foolishness.” “Understanding is contrary to the dullness. Council, is contrary to rashness and knowledge,” this is kind of easy, “knowledge is contrary to ignorance.” So, St. Thomas goes on to explain those four. “Dullness is contrary to sharpness, since an intellect is said by comparison to be sharp, when it’s able to penetrate into the heart of things that are proposed to it, penetrating intelligence, hence it is dullness of mind that renders the mind unable to pierce into the heart of things.” So, the gift of intelligence is opposed to dullness. Then he says, “A man is said to be a fool, if he judges wrongly about the common end of life,” for instance, if a person thinks that life is all about becoming famous, or accumulating money, that’s a form of folly, foolishness. Folly is opposed to wisdom, which makes us judge a right. St. Thomas says about the universal cause, what is the universal cause, the cause of everything? It’s God. So wisdom is about God, that the universal cause. Ignorance implies a defect in the mind, even about any particular things, whatever. So that is contrary to knowledge, which gives man a right judgment about particular causes. That is about creatures. Next week, God willing, we’ll look at wisdom concerning God. But now, this will be what we’ll be looking at today, knowledge, which concerns created things. And then rashness, is clearly opposed to counsel, whereby man does not proceed to action, before deliberating with his reason. Instead of thinking something out, a person just jumps into it rationally. So that those are saying that helps to see the distinction between these different four gifts, by their contrary. And then St. Thomas says, helping us again to understand the difference between these four, “all these concerns are things that are revealed to us by faith.” And he says, “there’s two things we need on our part, one, for the truth, the faith, and one, we have to penetrate or grasp that truth of faith, and that belongs to the gift of understanding.” So understanding helps us to grasp and penetrate what is proposed. But then once we’ve grasped or penetrated it, then we have to make a judgement about it. So that’s the difference between grasping something and then making a judgement about it. That’s the second step. And he divides that judgment into three parts, to be able to judge rightly, about the things. When it’s about the God and divine things, that’s the gift of wisdom. When it’s concerning created things, that’s the gift of knowledge, that we’ll be looking at today. And when it concerns, human actions, the decisions we have to make about particular situations, that’s the gift that we saw last week, of counsel. So that’s a little help to distinguish those four different gifts. So today, we’ll be looking at the gift of knowledge, also called the gift of science. And so, this concerns our created world, this amazing creation, that God has given us, a creation of great beauty, with a lot of treasures. And even you know, I think that there’s a lot of beauty in this hill country where the Lord has our little mission. And science helps us to understand a lot of these marvels of creation, like our human body. The more science progresses, the more we learn the extraordinary complexity of the human body. And so, but there’s always a danger because of the richness of creation, there’s always a danger of making an idle out of creatures. And so, the creatures have a danger of turning us away from God. Say, making an idol out of power, or accumulating wealth, or the pleasure we can get from creatures. And so, this gift of knowledge helps us to have the right attitude, the right judgment and the right attitude towards created things. It’s helping us to understand them and their proper relationship to God and to our salvation, helping to understand them in the light of faith. And a concrete example, that is St. Francis, St. Francis of Assisi, who had such an extraordinary love for creation, rejoicing in all the different parts of creation. And at the same time, he wasn’t making it an idol. He had come from a very wealthy family, but he had renounced that and was living a life of poverty. So, he wasn’t letting created things become an idol, becoming excessively attached to them, but he was loving them as they should be loved. And there’s a lot of Psalms which expressed that, like this is just a passage from Psalm 148, “Praise the Lord Sun and Moon. Praise Him all your shining stars, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind, fulfilling His command, mountains and all hills, fruit trees, and all cedars,” here our cedars, “are called to praise the Lord.” And so today I would say praise the Lord for the clouds, very glad to have this cloudy day here. And so, St. Thomas relates this gift of knowledge to the beatitude, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are those who weep or mourn. Because that beatitude of those who weep or mourn, he relates it to those who have learned the very hard lesson of not becoming excessively attached to creatures. How many times has that happened to us, that we become excessively attached to creatures, including the persons and then we can be burned by them. And so, to not become excessively attached. Also, this gift of knowledge, for instance, helps us in relation to animals, like the pets. So it’s good to love and respect pets, pet not to wait, sometimes United States, we go overboard, and you’re almost make you’re putting them and spending exorbitant amounts, for instance, of money on pets when there’s a lot of much greater needs that people have. And so today, there’s a lot of interest in ecology, and proper treatment of the environment. And this is the gift that helps us know how to treat properly, respect our environment. And we have the feast of St. Augustine coming up, St. Augustine is a good example of a person and we can also think of St. Mary Magdalene who had made idols out of creatures, and then to learn to not do that. And so, this gift also helps us to see our own actions, and the light of God with a spirit of humility, and to know that this world cannot provide our ultimate happiness. So it’s to love the world, but not make an idol out of it. And St. Thomas focuses then on a certain case of creatures, of created things, which are our human thoughts, especially human thoughts about God. Some of those thoughts are in harmony with the truth. And some of them aren’t. Because we know in our world today, there’s a lot of different opinions, about religion, about spirituality. Even in the Church, there’s a lot of opinions. And so, it’s often hard to know what to believe, what to trust. And so often in the New Testament, the Lord is putting us on guard against false teaching, false doctrine. Just today we had in the Gospel, of Jesus speaks of the narrow gate. And in another part of the Gospel, He says that He is the gate. How wide is the path that leads to destruction as many ways that the devil tempts us off the right path, but Jesus is the true gate. He is the way, the truth and the life. And St. Paul says, just to give you a few examples, St. Paul says to St. Timothy, “the spirit expressly says that in the later times, some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits, and doctrines of demons,” doctrines of demons. So, there’s not just the true doctrines, there’s also the very subtle doctrines of demons. “Oh, Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoid the godless chatter.” Godless chatter, that so much of our media is godless chatter, and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge. Because it’s the true knowledge and then there’s a lot of false knowledge. “For by professing it, some have missed the mark as regards the faith.” And St. John in his first letter says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit.” Do not believe every spirit. Not everything which pretends to be spiritual, is of a good spirit. Do not believe every spirit. Some people will believe anything that sounds spiritual. There’s a lot that sounds spiritually. There’s a lot of spirituality today. But those spirits are not always the Holy Spirit. “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are of God. For many false prophets have gone into the world.” Every spirit which does not, so he gives them the criteria, every spirit, it’s a very clear key too, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of God.” Because not every human person knows about Jesus. But every spirit knows about Jesus, whether they’re angelic spirits or diabolical spirits, they know who Jesus is. So any spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming and is in the world already. And our world is full of the spirit of the Antichrist, everything that is against that. ( Is that Is that rain? Oh, that’s good, Okay, Blessed be the Lord for some rain. Thanks be to God. ) And also Galatians St. Paul says, “I’m astonished that you are so quickly deserting him, who called you in the grace of Christ, and turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preach to you, let him be accursed.” So St. Paul doesn’t sound very inclusive. He is not saying believe everything. He’s saying, if they preach a different gospel? Well, he doesn’t say except that he says, “Let them be accursed,” anathema, let them be anathema. And he goes on, he repeats it, “as we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel, contrary to that which you receive, let him be accursed,” anathema. So, this gift of knowledge, helps give us the grace concerning all created things, including human ideas about faith and morals. So it helps protect us against error, by giving us a greater certitude and judgment about those things, about the matters of faith. And so how does it do that, you know, God’s knowledge is simple, instantaneous, and perfect. But our knowledge isn’t, our human knowledge, we need to reason. We need to gradually learn with examples and arguments and evidence and so forth. And we make mistakes, and it’s limited. But the gift of knowledge gives us a sharing in God’s own knowledge about these things, God’s own light. And so, it’s a different type of knowledge, as St. Thomas says, it’s like a simple intuition or instinct, an intuition or instinct that we sense that something is conformed to the faith or is not. “Lord will only a few people be saved? And Jesus responds, Strive to enter through the narrow gate,” which is again, is Jesus Himself, the way the truth and the life. And so, in this world, which is, as I say, whether the evil one is always trying to confuse us, to lie to us to put traps for us. This gift of knowledge helps us to navigate this world, with the light of God, to follow Jesus with the doctrine and the morality that leads to salvation. And so, this very Mass that we’re celebrating is an opportunity to receive the Word of God and to make an act of faith, an act of faith in our Lord here present and the Sacrament and I asked him to help us live our life and offer all our possessions for this great mission that He has entrusted to us. As Mother Magdalene mentioned, tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the Feast of the Queenship of our Blessed Mother, we’ve been doing this novena. She is the great example of the one, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the one who is guided by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and knows how to love creatures, as they should be loved, but without becoming, but without making idols of them. And so will like we did last week we’ll end this today by praying together the Hail Holy Queen. “Hail, Holy queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope, to thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this our exile, shown unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Oh Clement, Oh loving, Oh sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, oh holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
KEYWORDS / PHRASES:
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Gift of Knowledge
Gift of Wisdom
Gift of Counsel
Gift of Understanding