St. Peter thought he’d hit the nail on the head when giving Jesus the number seven for forgiving others. Boy, was he wrong. Yet, if we hit the number seven, then we’re still doing pretty well. As believers, we are always imperfectly perfect. However, Jesus sets the bar pretty high with his “seventy times seven” command.
Yet, there are seven days in a week despite the number the Beatles sang about.
In the list of Catholic holidays, Pentecost has got to be right up there after Christmas. Christmas brings new life to our broken world and Pentecost gives us seven gifts to keep that new life alive. Instead of calling them gifts, I think a more powerful word is seven tools. Tools are meant to be used. The Holy Spirit gives each of us seven special tools that are used in any circumstance, situation; whether distressing or joyful.
Seven contains the number three of the heavens and soul with the number four of the earth and body. Hence, the term “Seventh Heaven.” Guess how many colors there are in a rainbow?
Christ does not leave us on our own. Yet, Christ does leave us on our own. He ascends from here and tells us to patiently wait in the Upper Room for further travel instructions. Yet. I love that word “yet” because it gives us all an escape clause, a way around, or from this mystery of life. How easy it is for us to leave that “Upper Room” and roam around so proudly on our own wits? Roaming without the Holy Spirit’s tools.
When added, the opposite sides of a dice always equal the number seven. I have no idea what that means but aren’t you glad you came to Church today?
Wisdom. The last sentence in the Serenity Prayer. Grant me the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot do. That’s a Divine revelation never to be achieved on our own.
Understanding. Understanding that we will never reach a true understanding without the Holy Spirit’s other two friends. We see glimmers and glimpses of understanding but never the absolutes that contemporary zealots brag about.
Our lives are the imperfect perfection of perfection. That’s our daunting Christian task. Seven may solve a temporary predicament, but extending it beyond that number makes it God-like. Making it, as the Church tells us, “the working of the Holy Spirit.” And, I also add, making it the best of us.
King Solomon’s temple took seven years to build; every seven years is considered a holy year in the Hebrew Torah; Israelites during the battle of Jericho were told that marching around the walls of the city “those many” times would ensure their victory; in Jewish tradition, the deceased are mourned for how many days; in the Christian tradition there are seven deadly sins. Gee, I wonder how many sacraments there are in the Catholic Church.
Counsel helps us differentiate between right and wrong. This is best, and only, done within a communal setting. Doing this in your own selfish private world may very lead to numerous mishaps and disappointments.
Fortitude. My favorite of the spiritually lucky seven. Simply defined, providing necessary courage and endurance. How many times have we relied on fortitude to see us through how much of life’s stuff?
We remain in that Upper Room until those seven tools, I mean gifts, take a firm hold within us. Then, those seven become the bedrock that Jesus, the Christ, promised us. Christ didn’t abandon us. He’s empowering us along with His Father’s assistance, as the Church says, “through the working of the Holy Spirit.” Hence, that imperfectly perfect number is rubbed on our foreheads with chrism at Confirmation and then renewed each time we turn to prayer or seek out during Mass.
What number of years causes an itch in a marriage? And, how many little, friendly friends surrounded Snow White?
Knowledge. Help us all to know God better. And, what better way to know God better than through each other. It’s called the Body of Christ. Regardless, how difficult it may seem at times or how rewarding it helps and assists us during other times.
The best of the seven for last? Piety or (Fear, Awe) of the Lord in earlier translations. A reverence and obedience to our Creator. Never forgotten but always praised through those very special seven tools, I mean gifts.
Oh, I forgot. Paul Simon sang, there are how many ways to leave a lover? Boy, was he wrong minus forty-three.