Posts Tagged 'one body with many members'

For Jan. 27, 2013: 3 Epiphany, Year C

The Reading            Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

The Book of Nehemiah was written almost one hundred years after the exiles in Babylon rejoined those who were left behind in the ruins of Jerusalem. It was under Nehemiah’s direction that the city walls were finally rebuilt and the gates hung, and at long last all the people were brought together to hear the Law read and explained.

The Response            Psalm 19

The Second Reading            1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Paul today continues his counsel to the church at Corinth, expanding on last week’s insight that each of us is God’s gifted child. If we are in Christ, we are one body—and each of us needs all the gifts and guidance of the rest of us, in our function as “God with skin on”, to grow into the full measure of God in us.

The Gospel            Luke 4:14-21


Further thoughts

The CEO of Hilton International, Chris Nessetta, touts the hotel industry as requiring, and rewarding, a broad range of abilities and gifts. “We’re a very complex business… I mean if you’re interested in accounting, finance, tax, development, construction, marketing, you know, the online space… Every one of those and a hundred other things we do every day to make this business work.” He himself began, he says, by plunging toilets.

That breadth permeates today’s readings about the nature of life in the kingdom of God. The men and women of Nehemiah’s account—some of them returned deportees, others the remnant who eked out lives in a city crumbling around them—are hearing the Word read in Jerusalem and in Hebrew for the first time in decades. It is a day to feast, but first a day to weep for joy. Surely they would agree with the psalmist’s assessment of the Word of God as more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey. Just as surely they recognize the thousands of small actions undertaken with thought and grace that make this glorious day possible.

The epistle and the life of Christ underline this point. Paul enumerates desirable gifts of the Spirit, yes, but not before emphasizing and reemphasizing the indispensability of even the least of us to the whole body of Christ. Jesus announces himself as the very fulfillment of the Law that had made Nehemiah’s people weep, but later, we know, he will stop en route to his execution to wash others’ dirty feet and he will take the time once arisen to gut, scale and broil fish for breakfast.

Solemn occasions and grand spiritual gifts have their place, certainly—but in this world, toilets need plunging. Glorifying and enjoying God is not a matter of dazzling display on special occasions but rather of going our way every day, sleeves rolled up, to live out God’s call and to seek God’s good in each other’s faces.

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