1 Corinthians 12: 12-14, 27-31a
Luke 7: 11-17
There was a man calling all his friends to his back yard. He wanted to show them the car he had just bought. "Isn’t that something," he said. "How lucky can a guy get?" There was silence. Nobody was answering. Finally, there was a single voice, "The body of the car looks terrific. But there are no rims and tires, no steering wheel. All you can do is just look at it. It’s useless. If you want to go somewhere, you better have a good pair of walking shoes!"
Well, laugh along with the people standing there. It really isn’t a whole car. Some of the essential parts are missing. Take a quick step forward and look at that first reading from St. Paul for today’s Mass. He is talking about the Body of Christ. Paul insists that there are many parts, namely, gifts. Some of them certainly stand out and are very visible. The gift of Apostleship heads the list. Paul was very much aware of this gift. And he goes on to list a number of gifts. But an important fact here is that Paul includes all of them as making up the Body of Christ.
People notice the well spoken word, the clear language, the enthusiasm of the leaders, the fearlessness, for instance, of the modern day prophet. But when we look around at our parish family, or our natural familiy, we may be tempted to skip over the ones who don’t have much to say or anything outstanding that they have done.
Is it that hard to spot the dedicated Christian man and woman who shares the life of the Body of Christ? That sharing, for instance, is offered to us when we gather as the Whole Body of Christ at Eucharist. All the "parts" are there: the old and the young, the healthy and the sick, the happy and the sad, the rich and the poor, the married and the single, the saint and the sinner,etc. They are present. ALL of them together make up the Body of Christ and have with them their precious gifts that are shared. Watching an older person nodding in agreement with one of the readings…I never stop learning. Seeing a husband reach over and give an affirming pat on the shoulder to his wife as the reading continues…"thanks for reminding me of that." A big smile is her word of thanks. Or a teenager giving a big grin to his dad at the sign of peace…"nobody can replace you, dad!"
No one of us is going to make it without others. Paul is so wise in reminding you and me that we are not alone. We have the richness of the love, the example, the many, many different gifts that are found in the Body of Christ.
See what gifts you become aware of as you relate, mingle, share with the Body of Christ in your life. Interestingly enough, its some of our family or friends or even strangers that can surprise us with, "Thanks for sharing that. I never saw it that way." Or it can be just as surprising to hear them say, "You have a way of saying a lot just by the way you treat toward people. Thanks!"
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is the Senior priest at Immaculate Conception Parish, Chicago, Illinois.