Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

Spiritual Gifts

Literal Translation

3b No one is able to say "Lord Jesus" except in the Holy Spirit.

4 There are differing (types) of (graced) gifts, but there is the same Spirit. 5 There are differing (types) of service, and the same Lord. 6 There are differing (ways of) work, but the same God working all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit toward the profit (of all).

12 For just as the body is one, and it has many members, all the members of the body, being many, are one, thus (it is) also (with) Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Unity and diversity. Think of the multi-cultural culture we now live in. Not only are we racially and ethnically mixed, we also have many expressions of tradition and language. In the past, such differences would have been kept separated in the ghetto for two generations until there was cultural assimilation. But, with the many media avenues for news, our differences are much more apparent, even threatening.

The image of the Church far outdates our culture, but the tensions we face were real to those in Corinth. There were class and ethnic differences in the community. But, in addition, there were many different behaviors that manifest "spiritual gifts." But, unlike some modern commentators who seek to encourage differences over unity or to suppress differences for the sake of unity, Paul encouraged these "spiritual" behaviors as a sign of God's presence. Prophecy, utterances of wisdom, speaking in tongues, teaching, all were different gifts of the Spirit for the good of the community. Notice, Paul pointed to everyone in the community as a person with a spiritual gift. He implied the use of such gifts should be exercised, not suppressed. But, at the same time, he pointed to the reason the gifts were given: the good of others. Gifts were not to be a sign of self-glorification. No, they were for the glory of God!

Like the Corinthians, we all have gifts to offer for the common good and the praise of God. How we use them, however, determines their effectiveness. And our intention. Do our gifts unite or divide? Do they show we are one in the Body of Christ? Or, do they reveal divisions that crack the face of the Church?

The Spirit gave us his gifts. Let us use them wisely.

What gifts do you bring to the Church? How can you help to build up the community? How can your gifts and service give praise to God?