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Preaching Essay
The Author


May 27th 2012

By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican


The Feast of Pentecost invites us to reflect deeply on the role of the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives today and to look at the ways we respond to them. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he was very much aware that his time in the active ministry was running out and needed to select a person to continue the mission long after he was gone.  He chose Timothy as a credible witness to the Gospel and urged him to “fan into flame the gifts God had given him” and to continue the work of sharing the Good News with all people. Paul knew this mission would require courage and reliance on the Grace of God, as well as a willingness to suffer, because when one speaks the truth of the Gospel, it will call the disciple to suffer for the Gospel.  Timothy kept on feeding the flame of God’s gifts and spoke openly of Christ, and he was ready to suffer for the sake of Gospel. He was aflame with God’s love and always relied on the promises of Jesus which he knew would never fail him.


That same message is given to each of us. We are invited to replace fear with courage and hope and not limit ourselves to a safe, comfortable and secure ministry without too many challenges. We have the example of the early disciples of Jesus who allowed the Spirit to become active and lead the way in their lives. We too need to explore and pray for the courage to do our part and be open to the call and to follow faithfully. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and  enkindle in them the fire of Divine Love.”  When Jesus announced His Mission, he said:  “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for I have been anointed and sent to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind, new sight, to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.” The Spirit that God gives us is not one of power, but of love and self-control, and a readiness to follow our call and share in the suffering of Christ for the sake of the Gospel.  No gift of ours is too small to fan into flame and can be used to share the Good News in our world.




  • We need to open our minds and hearts and spirits and call on the guidance of the Spirit in discerning the gifts and fruits of the Spirit that are always available to us. To accomplish this, we reflect on the Word of God on a regular basis and be open to the enlightening and transforming power of the Spirit in our lives. When we name our gifts, we look around us and within us and see where these gifts could be used most effectively. Love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and justice are just a few of the gifts we are offered. God’s gifts to us are never for ourselves alone but for the welfare of others, especially the poor, the dispossessed, the grieving, and those suffering in so many ways. We can bring them comfort, and counsel and care, especially for those most in need. Then we will be true witnesses to God’s love, and promote justice and peace.

  • If we fail to use our gifts they will fall into disuse. If we overuse them and fail to take time to reflect, pray, and relax, without reliance on God’s gifts, we will suffer from burnout. We need to have balance in our daily lives.

  • How do we keep the flame burning over the long haul?

  • Without doubt, we will meet many challenges along the way. Then we call on the grace of the Spirit to sustain the fire and help us be unashamed and courageous in the sharing the Word of God. We practice in our own lives what we have been teaching and preaching – love, forgiveness, peace, justice and hope. The same power that transformed the early disciples is available to us at all times. 

  • Words of encouragement for each other will be very helpful and support us in keeping the flame burning brightly. Listening intently to the people we serve will enable us to use the best gifts to meet their needs.

  • Every day, we give thanks for the gifts God has given us to share with a broken and bleeding world. I am thinking particularly of one that Jesus offered his first followers, the gift of Peace. He said to them: “Peace be with you!” That same gift is offered to each one of us.  If each person used this gift, what a different world we would have! How different also would our church be? We would not be reading in the daily paper, stories of war, violence and conflict, of murder, abuse and neglect. We would hear more stories about people working for the common good, racial harmony, cooperation among groups and nations, money diverted from wars to meet basic human needs, and mo. We would envision a new and creative life-giving future for all.

Let us continue to “fan into the flame” the many gifts God has given each of us individually and as a community, and to use them to create the kind of world God has in mind for all people. as we continue to walk this journey with courage, conviction and hope. Come, Holy Spirit, Come!


Preaching Essay Archive

Just click on an Essay title below to read it.
(The latest submissions are listed first.)

• Preaching Mark 2023 •
• Preaching Mark 2022 •
• Even the Hymns Preach •
• Advent 2018 •
• Preaching Luke •
• The Journey Through Lent •
• A New Year - A Time To Choose •
• Called To Continue Our Journey As Peacemakers •
• Easter: A Call To Renew Our Faith •
• Fan Into Flame •
• Grieving Our Losses •
• The Importance of Inter-Religious Sharing •
• Are We Living In Pentecost Times? •
• Living With Gratitude and Hope •
• “Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge •
• What is the "New Evangelization"? •
• Pentecost •
• Inculturated Liturgy Challenges Preaching to Flower •
• Preaching Lent - Year C •
• Reflection - Psalm 127 •
• Reaching Youth Today •
• The Need To Reclaim And Live With Moral Courage •
• The Sacred Triduum •
• Welcoming the Stranger •
• Working for Peace •

Blessings on your preaching.

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