We read in the first reading, “Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers:Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger,Lucius of Cyrene,Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting,the Holy Spirit said,’Set apart for me Barnabas and Saulfor the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer,they laid hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3)
How did Saul and Barnabas know that they had a missionary charism? The community discerned this charism in Saul and Barnabas.This discernment happened during worship. During the worship the Holy Spirit revealed to the community, ‘I want Saul and Barnabas to go out and preach the gospel to the nations.’
This is how discernment of charisms work. The individual might feel if he has a particular charism. If the community doesn’t see that charism in him then he has discerned incorrectly, regardless of how much he might thinks he has that gift. If someone has a particular charism one of the signs of it being authentic is that people will see that gift in him, and seek him out. Here is an example. If one has a charism of healing than people will be healed when he prays for them, and people will seek him out to be healed.
Charisms are given for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ. But also the Body of Christ the Church is called to recognize the charims in the person.
One the defects in the modern church is that we often only recognize degrees. We look at how qualified someone is by looking at their degrees. In this the Church reflects very much the world. It might happens that the Holy Spirit might give a gift to someone with no degrees. St Therese the little flower had no formal training in scripture but she is now a doctor of the Church. Would you rather have St Therese teaching you scripture or a theologian with ten degrees but no faith?
We need to rediscover the importance of charisms in the church. But in order for this to happen we have to see the importance of community. Community and charims go together. The community discerned the missionary charism in Saul and Barnabas. It was the community that laid hands on them and set them off.