St Paul, in the Second Reading, speaks of the interconnection of God’s people, all of them bound together with an intimacy so intense, so central to the reality of God’s people, that to Paul it is nothing short of foolish to even try to say that any part is more important, more necessary, more noble than any other.
Not only are we related to one another as intimately as are the different parts of a single body, so are we dependent upon one another for our own fulfilment, our own successful playing out of whatever role, in the midst of his people, God may have ordained for each one of us.
By myself, relying only on my own abilities, my own sensitivities, I can no more become what God means by human than an ear become a body without the help of the eyes, the hands, the feet, and so on.
That means that the difference between the parts of the body, the members of God’s people, are every bit as important, as valuable, as saving a thing as their similarities.
It is precisely because such and such a person is different from me that that person is able to enrich my life, able to add to whatever I may bring with me into the life of God’s people.
We have each of us been sent into our lives, sent by God, sent with real gifts to meet real needs in real people.
If my role, my ability, my life can seem pretty limited and pointless to me from time to time, I am assured by God’s own promise that what
I have to bring is exactly what is needed by others, needed to make up for their lacks, enrich their lives, set them free, as Christ puts it in the Gospel, from the chains of their own inabilities, insensitivities.
The other side of that is equally true. I, too, am surrounded by that favour precisely in that I am surrounded by people who can and will enrich me, fill my life with their own power, ability, goodness.
We might ask, using St Paul’s image, what part of Christ’s Body are we?
Are we part of his mind, teaching the faith? Are we part of his heart, showing the care of Christ? Are we part of his hands, reaching out to others? Are we part of his feet, taking the Gospel to different places? Are we part of his ears, listening to the anxieties of a weary culture? Are we part of his lips, speaking his truth? And so on. The gifts that St Paul mentions are not personal perfections but ways of strengthening the Church and parish.
Through Paul’s imagery, Christ tells us clearly, each one of us, “We need what you have to give, and we have a great deal to give you. This is indeed a time of favour from the Lord. Come out and rejoice in it”.