I remember as a kid I’d have some sort of pain to complain about and I’d go to my Dad and whine about ‘my finger huuurrrts’ and put on the most pathetic face I could. I don’t know if I actually expected him to fix it or if I just wanted attention, but I’d usually get one of two answers: either “come here and I’ll cut it off” – or – “come here and let me stop on your toe – then you won’t feel your finger anymore.”
Anybody else ever experienced that? Watch what would happen if you stomped on my toe… (call altar server to ‘pretend’ to stomp on my toe…then jump around on one foot howling and writhing in pain). Did you notice what happened? Let me re-enact that for you again in slow motion: the mouth immediately opens, the lungs immediately gasp inward, the voicebox immediately lets out a scream, the leg immediately jerks the toe out of harms way – then lifts the injured toe into the air where the arms and hands immediately move into position to hold it up. The face contorts, the neck stretches back, the eyes close tightly and water a little bit(no I wasn’t crying!), the other foot and leg jump up and down as if THAT would help to alleviate the pain or something.
In short – when one part of the body hurts – every other part of the body rushes to do whatever it can to alleviate that pain. The hands don’t say – well WE are more important than a stupid toe, so WE are not going to lift a finger to help. The lungs don’t say – well you know – a body can live without a toe… but a body CAN’T live without lungs… we’re not going to waste our breath on such an inferior body part.
No – EVERY body part rushes to do WHATEVER it can to remove the pain.
That is what we witnessed in our community over and over again – and once again in the last two weeks… Some members of our body were struck a horrible blow at their farms – and when it happened –it was like somebody stomped on our toe. The whole community immediately jumped up and down willing – wanting – needing to do anything we could to alleviate the pain of those farmers. Immediately prayers were going out on Facebook and emails. Prayer services were organized. Adoration for 6 six days in a row was organize almost overnight. I gotta be honest, I didn’t think THAT would happen – but it goes to show that THIS body of Christ SINCERELY wants to do WHATEVER we can to alleviate your pain – because your pain – is OUR pain.
That’s the way it is with the Body of Christ…and that’s what Paul is talking about in that second reading. Let me give just a little background - Paul wrote this letter about 20 years after Jesus’ Resurrection when he was in prison in Rome. It’s written to the church in Corinth – one of the churches he started in his missionary journeys. This church was vibrant and growing, in many ways, it was the model for how churches were to be formed…but he caught wind of some rivalries taking place in the parish and he felt the need to step-in to keep things from getting out of hand. Apparently some of the parishioners were able to speak in tongues – others had a gift of healing – there were several various ministries and each person had their part in the church. But apparently some of them thought – well, I have the gift of tongues, so I’m more important than the Altar Servers – so I don’t have to do my fair share around here. The Lectors thought – I have the gift of proclaiming the Word – surely that’s more important than these other people, so I shouldn’t have to help wash dishes.
Paul is quick to point out that nobody is more important than anybody else. Just like a human body has many parts and each is necessary….likewise EVERY person is given a gift or a ministry to build up the Body of Christ. In other words, every person has a Charism, given by God, which is specifically to help the people of God – the Church.
I like the way Fr. Eugene defines a charism… a charism is the God-given ability (or talent) to do something that OTHER people consider to be WORK, but YOU actually get ENERGIZED doing it.
What is YOUR charism? Everybody has at least one… Examples – some people are really good at taking notes at meetings and actually ENJOY it! For me, that would be almost as bad as going to the dentist. On the other hand, a lot of people would cringe in fear at standing up here and preaching a homily – but for me – THIS is what ENERGIZES me. (you probably noticed that;) Some people think cutting firewood is a drudgery, but many men would rather do that than just about anything else… it’s fun..it’s in nature… and it’s providing heat for the winter. Some of us think cooking is akin to torture, but others have a god-given talent and there’s no place they’d rather be than in the kitchen. If you can think of a job that fires you up… perhaps THAT is your Charism.
Every Charism… yes… every Charism… has a place in the Church. Why? Go back to the definition… it is a God-given talent. God gave you that Charism for the benefit of HIS church…His people.
We have MANY different ministries in this parish – and that’s what this Ministry Fair coming up is all about. I suspect that everybody – myself included – will find SOMEthing at the ministry fair that we can say – wow – I didn’t know we did that here! That is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do! And if you DON’T see it there, and you have a passion for it, by all means, put your God-given talent to use. For example, let’s say you LOVE camping… there’s no place you’d rather be than sitting around a campfire. Maybe you could use your Camping Charism to organize family outings or youth camp trips? Not only would you get to do your camping, but you would be putting your experience at the service of God’s people. Be creative – just like God was creative when he made each one of us – down to the last little toe.