This is my homily for 24 January 2010. Feel free to respond with comments. To view the readings, go to http://www.usccb.org/nab and click “January 24” in the calendar.
[__01.] Paul, in our second reading today, writes about gifts. The gift of being the hand as part of the body, the gift of being the eye as part of the body, the gift of being the ear as part of the body.
And, also, Paul writes about the gift of carrying out certain responsibilites, such as the gift of being an administrator, a prophet, or an apostle, or a teacher.
[__02.] And, we are reminded that we need God’s help and the Holy Spirit to discover what our true gifts are. It is written in the Gospel that Jesus returns in the power of the Spirit to Nazareth.
And, Jesus discovers who he truly is by being close to God.
[__03.] Sometimes, we might confuse things about what is “good” or what is “bad.”
What St. Francis de Sales wrote is that sometimes we excuse – confuse – the good and the bad. We mistake one for the other.
For example, “slander” (bad) confused as “free speech”; “arrogance” as “honesty”; “vanity” as “elegance.”
I might be guilty of any one of these things. And, I might do them or confuse them because I want to be acceptable.
The question is – whose acceptance am I really seeking?
[__04.] In the synagogue, Jesus speaks about this being a year acceptable to the Lord.
And, St. Paul is urging us to use our gifts and to pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit. And, by praying, we grow closer to God, so that we do not confuse, for example:
** “slander” & “free speech”;
** “arrogance” & “honesty”;
** “vanity” & “elegance.”
There are many gifts but the same Spirit. We need God’s help in order to use our gifts well.
[__05.] St. Paul writes of the variety of gifts, the diversity of gifts, of the -- “gifts of healing, assistance, administration, varieties of tongues.”
Everything we do is a gift. For example, “administration” does not mean simply you you are the corner-office CEO of Google or Goldman Sachs. Running your household, raising your children, or managing a classroom, you are exercising the gift of “administration”. The annual bonus is a little bit different. Nonetheless, it is the gift of administration.
We need the help of the Holy Spirit to put our gifts at the service of others, to un-wrap our gifts for others.
[__06.] The recent earthquakes in Port-au-Prince and Haiti reveal that many have gifts to share. If you have made a donation, you have made a gift, said a prayer, then you are a gift to the people of Haiti.
Often, we think of those with specific technical expertise as those with gifts.
Paul addresses this in the letter to the Corinthians. He asks, is everyone a prophet? Is everyone a teacher? Is everyone doing mighty deeds?
Does everyone have specific technical expertise?
[__07.] Today, we might ask ourselves a similar question as we watch CNN or read the news. Is everyone a doctor trained in emergency medicine? Is everyone a helicopter pilot who can deliver food and water? Is everyone an engineer?
Well, no. However, this is not to discourage us.
As Paul wrote, “If the 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. (1 Corinthians 12:__)
[__08.] So, all parts of the body contribute to the good of the whole.
And, those of us who have given and who are praying for the people of Haiti, we are also contributing to the good of the whole.
A parent who is administering a household is doing a mighty deed at least as great as running an investment bank.
And, all of us – in the Body of Christ – are doing mighty deeds.
And, we do mighty deeds as one body. We do them as a community.
[__09.] We are called to use our gifts. And, sometimes, when we think of the acceptability of our gifts, we are thinking of things which are outwardly attractive.
• White teeth
• Good looking
• Speaks well, good SAT scores
• the quarterback who can complete passes to his receiver; the relief pitcher who gets his team out of a jam.
These are gifts we often rate very highly.
But, we are also called to ask ourselves today. What is my criteria? What is God’s criteria?
Certainly all of us want to be favored.
But, what Jesus is urging us to do is to come closer to him so that we might open our gifts, so that we might free of selfishness, difficulty, so that we can share our gifts with others.