If this email does not display correctly, please use this link to view the message.

 

DignityUSA Logo

Breath of the Spirit

Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.

Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.


As we hear in today’s second reading, Paul’s main concern for his Corinthian community isn’t that they “get gifted,” it’s that they use the spiritual gifts they already have with the love which will help them build up the body of Christ. 

__________________________________________________________________________________

JANUARY 31ST, 2016, FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
I Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Luke 4:21-30

I presume most of us don’t worry about even coming close to being martyred for our faith as Jeremiah and Jesus did during their ministries.  We know from reading Jeremiah’s “confessions” (chapters 10-20) that the prophet constantly had to deal with people who wanted him dead. And Jesus’ encounter with his hometown folk in our gospel pericope demonstrates how frequently his ministry brought him to the “edge.”

On second thought, perhaps we shouldn’t boast about our distance from martyrdom. If we’re supposed to be “other Christs” and the first Christ was martyred on Golgotha, should we be proud that we’ve avoided that part of the historical Jesus’ ministry?

In the chapter preceding our I Corinthians passage – last week’s reading – Paul stated his conviction that the Holy Spirit had given every follower of the risen Jesus a unique gift; a talent which made him or her a special part of the body of Christ. Though the Apostle lists only eight of these special abilities, we presume there are as many unique gifts as there are disciples of Jesus; each given “for the common good,” each when used together with the gifts of those other Christs around us help to make the risen Jesus present in this world.

The problem is that some of us are still waiting for those gifts to appear in our lives. We presume one day the Spirit will make a miraculous appearance, tap us on our foreheads, and zap! we’re gifted. My experience with the permanent diaconate years ago convinced me that’s not how it works.

One of my tasks was to find out if those who applied for this ministry possessed the special characteristics which would make them good deacons. We quickly learned, for instance, that the abilities which an effective priest possesses aren’t the same which an effective deacon has. But we also discovered that someone’s unique gifts were always part of that individual’s personality. There wasn’t a time in their lives when they weren’t part of who that person was. That’s why most of the candidates never recognized them as the Spirit’s gifts. 

As I was giving the men “feedback” on what we’d discovered about their gifts, their wives, usually sitting next to them, would often give them a gentle nudge and remark, “I’ve been telling you this for years, but you never listen to me.” Just as Jeremiah was already dedicated as a prophet in his mother’s womb, so are we dedicated as parts of the risen Jesus’ body in our mother’s womb.

I, for instance, “by nature” can mentally order parts of a homily or a college class in just a few seconds. As far back as I can remember, I could always think well on my feet. (Adolf Hitler had the same gift. But he certainly didn’t use it for the common good.) On the other hand, I’m the messiest housekeeper around. I never know what to keep or what to throw away. The Spirit hasn’t gifted me with that ability.

As we hear in today’s second reading, Paul’s main concern for his Corinthian community isn’t that they “get gifted,” it’s that they use the spiritual gifts they already have with the love which will help them build up the body of Christ. 

If we can’t immediately surface our unique gifts, we should check with someone close to us. (A husband or wife would be perfect.) But once we find out what they are, we should reflect on how we’ve used them. If we constantly employ them with love, then we’re using them as the Spirit intended. Of course, if we do so, we might also reflect on how close we also come to Jesus’ and Jeremiah’s “edge.” 

DignityUSA

P.O. Box 376
Medford, MA 02155
United States

800-877-8797
info@dignityusa.org

Please support DignityUSA

Click here to unsubscribe from our mailing list.

Click here to stop receiving email from DignityUSA.

Forward this email