January 16, 2022
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”
-1 Corinthians 12:4
When it comes to my faith, I often think I should be doing more, regardless of what I’m doing. I get it in my head that I’m missing this or that; or I see what someone else might be good at and think I should be good at that too. It’s frustrating because, of course, I’m not capable of doing everything I think I should be doing; and it might be far less frustrating if I focus on what I can do.
I believe that’s what St. Paul is trying to tell me in today’s passage. “Hey, Tim, stop thinking you can and must do it all; that’s not what God intended or created you to be.” It’s an affirming message to people like me, in no way releasing me from growing in the gifts I have been given, but excusing me from doing what others are more gifted to do. Many hands might make light work, but only if all those hands aren’t trying to do the exact same thing.. How many Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb? St. Paul says “Just one—so go find something else to help with, Tim!”
I think it’s fascinating how often we talk about diversity, both in the Church and in society as a whole and yet, in practice, seem to value sameness. The Catholic Church, if it is truly to be “universal” as the name suggests, benefits from diversity. In fact, all of us benefit from a diversity of gifts. When we work together to proclaim God’s Kingdom in a variety of ways, with a diversity of gifts, we can bear great fruit as Christians. When we think we have to do it all ourselves, things generally don’t get done or bear the same fruit.
It does take a sense of humility, a setting aside of pride and the “my way or the highway” kind of thinking. But, “different workings but the same God” is as important a lesson now as it was when St. Paul was writing to the new believers in Corinth.
In the end, I don’t need to screw in my light bulbs as well as, or the same ways, as other Christians. I might not even need to change the light bulb at all! There may already be plenty of light bulb changers! And I don’t need to tell others how to approach their tasks either. I just need to look around and help address the items I know I can help with most with my particular gifts. So with humility, and an acknowledgement that I do not and cannot know all, I will offer my own gifts, and not comment on or judge the gifts that others choose to offer, unless it is to offer gratitude.
My Lord God, thank You for the gifts You’ve given to me and for the gifts You’ve given to those around me. May I use my gifts to give You glory, setting aside my own need for gratification or affirmation, and working with others whose gifts differ from mine. Your will be done. Amen