‘There are many gifts, but one Spirit,’ St Paul observes in his first letter to the Corinthians, reminding Christian communities that God’s diverse blessings have a shared purpose as well as a shared origin. By devoting particular care to discerning, cultivating and sharing our gifts with others, we fulfil their ultimate purpose of building up the Kingdom of God. In this way, we honour God’s presence within us and affirm that the Holy Spirit abides in the hearts of all people of good will, uniting us not only as one community but as a whole human family.
Our task in life is to discover and embrace the unique role God calls us to play in the human story. We call this our vocation; the purpose that harmonises our gifts in a way that brings us greatest joy and disposes us best to loving service of God and neighbour. This is why we place such importance on the discernment of gifts; they inform our discernment of our vocation.
One challenging aspect of the task of discernment is that gifts manifest in ways and along timelines that vary widely. As we progress through stages of personal development, in dialogue with one another, our personal and collective context changes. We discover new aspects of ourselves that were previously hidden or underexplored. This can be both exciting and unsettling, because it has the potential to radically change our sense of self and our discernment of our life’s vocation.
Our learning community is committed to disposing ourselves positively to growth and sharing diverse gifts so that we may remain responsive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Yet, we also acknowledge that this commitment itself requires grace. It takes courage to risk developing newly discerned gifts and strive for the magis. It takes more courage still to risk revealing our gifts to others. Even after we overcome reluctance or fear, we also need patience and self-discipline, because every attempt to master something new will always entail making mistakes and the experience of some degree of frustration or failure. It is only by exploring and encountering the limits of our current understanding or ability that we can extend these limits.
As we assist one another in the process of discerning our gifts, we commit ourselves to reflecting on two important questions; how can I best place my gifts in the service of others and how can this foster a spirit of unity, inclusion and affirmation at Xavier? In this way, we will ensure that the many gifts that fill our community harmonise, drawing people together to build and strengthen the bonds of friendship that we celebrate this year.
There is no end or limit to the good that God can work in our lives when we embrace and share the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We know this is true even in the most challenging of circumstances, since the gifts of the Holy Spirit have empowered Christian communities to persevere, endure and even flourish in the face of great adversity and sorrow. By making room for the Holy Spirit to shape our lives, we can be confident that we will be able to lift up our hearts no matter what our circumstances may be, living life to the full and discovering true joy and fulfilment.