Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Charisms and ministry of the Church
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, …. and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? …. But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” …. If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? 1Cor 12,12-30
The image of the body and of the members to describe the functioning of a complex organization, where each one is at the service of the others, has been already utilized by both Greek and Roman authors:”Membra sumus corporis magni” Seneca writes in a letter, speaking of the great roman empire. Paul, to describe the organization and the different functions of the Church, resumes this image and he considers it as the expression of a supernatural reality, where the leader is Jesus Christ and we are the members which the Holy Spirit reaches and feeds as the blood does in the human body. Before talking of the ministries, a subject which is also considered by the end of the today passage, Paul speaks about the charisms, because it is not possible to talk of the first ones without considering also the others. In the letter to the Romans, on the contrary, Paul starts to talk about the ministries and he ends up by describing the charisms. “To each individual – Paul says in the verses which are preceding the today passage – the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.: … the expression of wisdom, … the expression of knowledge, … the gifts of healing by the one Spirit, … mighty deeds, … prophecy, … discernment of spirits, … varieties of tongues, … interpretation of tongues” (1Cor 12,7-10). To them, by the end of the today passage, Paul adds the charism of the apostle, of the govern, of the teacher and of the assistance to the sick people. In other letters, furthermore, he cites also additional charisms up to reach the number of twenty one. Because at the interior of the Church the various ministries of the mystic body are assigned by nomination, the one who is entrusted to select the persons has the duty to take care of the charisms which each one has received. These, during the practicing of the ministries, have to be further reinforced by the grace of the being as such, however they have to be already existing as a natural quality or as a donation of the Holy Spirit. The one who is called for the role of bishop has to have particular charisms, which could be different, to make an example, between the bishop of Nairobi and the bishop of New York, because the contexts where they have to be exerted are different. Also in the interior of the family the various components bear different charisms. The Holy Spirit donates to the parents the charisms of the govern to manage the situations which take place thereby; of the selectivity to understand what is good and what is bad; of the faith to guide the family in the difficult moments; of the speaking with wisdom and science, because necessary for the education of the sons; this in addition to the particular charisms which are required by the particular type of the family. The totality of these gifts feature the grace of being, which the Lord gives and which has to be required in the personal prayer. Lord, give us the grace and the necessary charisms to properly govern the family, to comprehend the persons which are part of it and to understand the difficult situations which take place. Give us the capacity to educate the sons and the faith in you, in particular in the difficult moments.