Homily (Sermon) - But always as one body.
The Readings for Sunday 26th January 2013 or Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C:
Old Nehemiah 8:2-6,8-10
Psalm Psalm 18
New 1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Gospel Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]
I am really happy to be coming to join you today in worship and I was really pleased to find that today’s New Testament reading form St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was all about togetherness. We are all part of Christ’s body, whether we are Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Free Church, Roman Catholic or any the Christian denominations. Far too often we let the small differences between our beliefs dominate us, and we miss the huge similarities.
Weekends like this are wonderful. We embrace our One Body, the Body of Christ, and come together in lots of different ways. For me, what is special, is seeing new faces, new smiles, meeting other parts of the body of Christ. Learning what gifts you have, seeing how you serve the Lord in your work and worship. Learning from you and growing in my own faith.
Paul wrote todays reading because he wanted to teach the Corinthians that being different from each other, didn't mean being better or worse than each other. The Corinthian’s were suffering from very human conditions; they were guilty, as we often all are, of pride and of greed.
I am guessing those with money or power, those with strength or intelligence, those with beauty or charisma, were able to gain position and influence over those without. I am guessing that a hierarchy began to exist, not a hierarchy of service for other using those gifts, but a hierarchy of requiring service because they possessed those gifts.
Paul was telling the Corinthian’s, and more importantly today, Paul is telling us, that we may be different, and it’s good and proper that we are different, but that we are all equal as part of Christ’s body, and as part of Christ’s Body we are called to work together to do Christ’s work.
There is so much work out there, in the secular world today, that Christ needs us to do, it’s often really difficult to know where to start. But we can find lessons to help, in our Gospel reading. We have to starts described today and both can help us as we start going about Christ’s work as Christ’s Body.
The first start is that of Luke, Luke is starting his Gospel. He wasn't setting out to write a book that would be read by billions of people for 2000 years. He was writing a description of what happened so that someone else would find it easier to believe not in what happened as a history lesson, but what it meant for them in their life.
Luke’s place in the Body of Christ was not as an Apostle, not as a prophet, not as a miracle worker; Luke’s place was as a teacher. Does that make Luke better or worse than Paul or John, Mosses or Jacob, or any of us? No of course not, but it demonstrates to us how great the work of Christ’s body can be, and should inspire us to work for the Lord.
Our second start, is the description of the start of Christ’s work, His reading from the prophet Isaiah. A prophesy that He Himself was to fulfill I have always found it interesting that Christ read the scroll handed to Him, sat down, and then started talking. That in fact was the way the synagogue worked, the teacher of the day would read scripture and then sit with the people and explain what it meant. They would talk about it, discuss it. I would encourage you to day the same today, think about what you have heard, talk it through with the other parts of the Body, the Christians around you. Think how Christ is calling you through those words to serve him. Think how working together you may combine your gifts into some special, something Christ like, something that can serve Him and the world He came to serve.
For me this reading has also has a personal meaning. My journey towards ordination as a Deacon had several wonderful moments along the way. One of those was receiving the ministry of Reader or Lector, the following Sunday I read at all the Masses at our church. The Old Testament reading was the reading we have just heard about Christ reading from Isaiah. It really struck me then, as it does now, that Christ has asked me:
“…to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”
When I was Ordained I was presented with the bible and instructed “Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.” And while that is good advice for all of us, we should also remember we are all different, we all bring different gifts, and we are all asked to serve in different ways, but always as One Body.
About the Author - Deacon John Scanlon