People often ask me to explain to them how to discern something in their lives according to the will of God. I begin by talking to them about trying to develop a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. This is not necessarily an easy thing to do. To some people it comes like a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is just there by the grace of God. For others it is a very elusive reality. Either way, it is not necessarily an easy thing to use well even when it is there.
In today’s Gospel we notice that Elizabeth recognises that there is something extraordinary about the child in the womb of her cousin, Mary. She senses that this child id the Son of God and thus greets Mary with the title: Mother of my Lord. How does Elizabeth sense this about the child in the womb of Mary? There is no scientific explanation for this! It has to do with the mystery of faith and the way that faith can bring us knowledge that the sciences are completely powerless to provide. Herein lies something of the gift of discernment – it is an extra-ordinary perception of the truth that depends upon the person of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit that animates the gift of discernment in order to aid us to know God’s will for our lives and to lead us in the ways of the truth. It is not something that we can switch on like an electrical light! It relies upon the grace of God being present in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. This is why the second step I will often raise with a person is the state of their life in regards to sin. If there is unrepentant sin, especially serious sin, then it is less likely that the grace of God in terms of the gift of discernment will be all that clear in a person’s life.
Finally, I find that the grace or gift of discernment is often found in a person who is very familiar with the Word of God. That is, they are constantly reading and imbibing the Word of God in prayer and meditation.
To grow in the gift of discernment, let us commit ourselves to regular reading of the Scriptures and to studying them in depth in order to become more familiar with the mind and heart of God.
Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be more committed to learning your mind and will for my life. Help me not to allow any obstacles to deflect me from this goal.