September 13, 2016
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
We as Church are the body of Christ on earth. It is one body, but has diversity of gifts, calling and ministries. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” (v.12). Christ cannot be divided, and so the body of Christ should be united as one. Unfortunately there are many divisions in the body of Christ.
The universal Church herself has split and re-split. Among the major ones were the split between East and West after 1,000 years, and then the Protestant Reformation after another 500 years. Many religious congregations, an example being the Franciscans, have split and re-split. We too in CFC split in 2007.
What can help avoid such divisions?
First, even though we have ethnic, social and economic distinctions, we are children of the one Father, disciples of the one Lord Jesus Christ, and filled with the one Spirit. We are one body. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (v.13). We must then strive to preserve that unity.
Second, we must realize that there are many parts to the one body, and they think, feel and serve in different ways. “Now the body is not a single part, but many.” (v.14). We should consider that all parts are important, according to God’s design. “But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (v.18-20).
Third, we need each other. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’” (v.21). At times we might think we do not need others, as we focus on our own ministry or service. That is because we have a narrow focus, or we think too highly of ourselves. We need to see things as God sees them. God has the grand complete vision, and in His intent, He designed the body to have many parts. Since we need each other, we must have concern for each other, especially for the less prominent or weaker parts, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.” (v.25).
Fourth, we must know that we are in this together, and that whatever happens to a part of the body happens to all in the body. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (v.26). As we look to each other’s good, we are also looking to our own good as well.
So we are one in Christ. And that one body, in order to be able to accomplish the full mission of the Church, is diverse in its charisms. Among the most important (remember that the least important as just as important) are “first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers” (v.28a). Apostles are those who are sent. Being part of a missionary Church, all of us are actually sent. We need to go and share Christ. Then there are the prophets, who stand in God’s place and speak in God’s name. Though there are those with the special gift of prophecy, all of us are to be prophetic, that is, we are to exhort, correct, chastise, encourage, boldly speak, and inspire God’s people and help more them along the right paths. Then there are the teachers, who are crucial to forming people in the faith.
There are the less prominent gifts, such as “assistance, administration” (v.28c), which might not put one in the limelight, but are crucial as well in accomplishing the total mission of the Church.
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