See the Readings for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
1. The Catholic Church is made up of a variety of people. There are the young and the old. There are highly educated people and people with not much formal schooling. There are people who have common sense, and there are those who do not have much. There are athletes and couch potatoes and everything in between. There are skilled musicians, and people who cannot sing or play anything. We could go through the whole list. There are all sorts of people with all sorts of talents, skills, education, knowledge, and experiences, all of which God has distributed to us out of the mystery of His love and will.
2. Apart from these gifts, God has also bestowed the gift or the responsibility of authority. Parents for example have authority over their children. Even if the parents lack skills or knowledge, they are still responsible. Or consider priests. Not every priest is learned or even skilled in every area of pastoral ministry. I was a music teacher before, but one of my classmates was a funeral director, and another a doctor. Whatever our personal characteristics or talents, whatever our training and education, we were ordained as priests. Those of us who are pastors exercise authority and responsibility in ways which other people do not. .
3. Then there are all the different ways which we are blessed or gifted by the Holy Spirit. Some gifts appear attractive and important like Speaking in Tongues or Healing or Teaching or Administration. Others do not always attract- like the gift of tears or the fear of the Lord or piety. But every gift, every talent is important and necessary for the building up of the Church. Although it is obvious that the Church is made up of a variety of people with a variety of gifts, at least some of the Corinthians struggled because of frustration or dissatisfaction. In truth, there was jealousy over the various ministries or vocations within the Church. Not everyone had the gift that they wanted or the office of authority which they wanted.
4. Saint Paul used the human body to demonstrate his point. Every part is valuable and necessary for the good of the whole. If some part is missing, then the body might die, or it might be disfigured or made more feeble. In the same way, every gift is needed. As Paul told the Corinthians, we should not be upset or jealous if we are lacking in some gift, or if we are lacking the power to exercise the authority which we would like to at this moment. After all, what would we do if the parish was made up entirely of musicians, but no cooks? Or adults but no children? Or priests only, or no priest at all?! It would hardly be a parish at all.
5. Saint Paul’s main point is that every person is valuable to the life of the community. Every talent and gift is necessary and usable for the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, we have been blessed with our differences just as we have been blessed with material goods. But there is no need to fuss over our differences, or even our weaknesses, but to see ourselves as part of the Body of Christ with Jesus as the Head.
6. God has blessed each one of us who are Baptized by adopting us into His family. It is vital to recognize this Holy Gift as well as all the blessing which He has so generously bestowed on us. To fail to recognize the blessings would be ingratitude toward the God who made us. Therefore we must reflect on what the Lord has made and what are we to do with it. And then employ these blessings in the Lord’s service.
7. To use our gifts- whether material blessings like property or money, or personal gifts like talents and skills, or even the use of time (one of the most precious things we have) is called Stewardship. We practice stewardship when we contribute money to the collection for the parish. (And I practice stewardship when I administer these funds prudently). We practice stewardship when we volunteer for a ministry or when we serve God and our parish. We practice stewardship when we get on our knees to pray, when we read the Bible or another Spiritual book, or even when we listen to another person.
8. If everyone uses their talents and gifts for the greater honor and Glory of God, the Body of Christ in our parish will be healthy and pleasing to God. But note this: our gifts, talents, skills or responsibilities are not what will get us into heaven, rather it is the grace and love of Jesus Christ who makes it possible for us to be in Paradise forever. Yet how we use our gifts will make a difference of whether we receive our eternal inheritance. Saint Therese of Liseux compared each person to a glass into which water could be poured. Not every glass is the same size or shape. Not every glass holds the same amount. But every glass can be full. And if we want to be full of the Holy Spirit, then we must empty ourselves of everything else.