For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.
But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
“None of us is perfect,” said the sign above the manager’s desk. The reality is that an effective speech therapist might not be a very good cook. Someone we regard as a fine lawyer or actress or financial analyst might not be so good at cleaning up household mess. In the ying and yang of our various relationships, don’t we put up with one another’s shortcomings precisely because we treasure the unique strengths and talents each of us enjoys as gifts from God…gifts to be used for every purpose under heaven. Through his clever use of the image of the body’s inter-connectedness, St. Paul got it right when he reminds us that each person has his or her unique and valuable place within this human community, this body of belief, this reign of God.
So let us go into that Nazareth synagogue where Jesus grew up. As Luke describes it, Jesus reads the familiar passage from the prophet Isaiah which begins: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim a year of favor for the Lord.” Then he puts down the scroll. He walks to his seat. Every eye is fixed upon him. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled as you hear it.” Imagine the stunned look on people’s faces, their mouths open in disbelief. Who does he think he is?
Yet who better to proclaim the good news of God’s reign than someone so intimately familiar with the daily life of God’s people? The message Jesus came to proclaim is just that—God is near at hand, right in the messiness of our daily routine, healing us, freeing us, loving us in all that we speak and accomplish. If this is the case, then how precisely does Jesus invite each one to take up the mission of the gospel, to do our part so that the blind can recover sight and those with broken hearts can find new life?
Perhaps by looking around our homes, our neighborhoods, our offices, our malls—taking up the mission of Jesus this week, today! As always each person does make a difference with the strength and fire of the Lord. Today’s gospel IS actually fulfilled this week as we go forward steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, I am at the beginning of another day that has never been before and will never come again. During it may I persist in that one thing that matters — following you. I trust, Lord, that you have blessed me with just the right gifts I need to build your kingdom. I pray, Lord, that when night comes I will have allowed you to deepen your life in me.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team