FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT Cycle B November 29, 2020
YOU ARE NOT LACKING IN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT…
Hmm. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am lacking plenty in spiritual gifts: in wisdom to know what to say. In patience with my brother Paulists. In hope and endurance in this never-ending pandemic and all the difficulty and hardship and heartache it causes. In peace, as I get irritated and impatient with our church and bishops, our country, our situation in Covid-19. I am lacking PLENTY of spiritual gifts. How about you?
So, is St. Paul totally off-base? Does he not know what he is talking about? Well, we tend to hear this differently than what St. Paul intended. There is a failure in translation. You see, when Paul is writing to the Corinthian Christian community, he is writing to them as a community, a group. Not as individuals. When St. Paul says, “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift...” he is talking to the Corinthians as a community, or in Paul’s favorite image, as one body with many parts.
Therefore, when you hear this passage, don’t think about it addressed to you individually, but hear it addressed to all of us together as one body. It should be translated, “so that y’all, all of you together, are not lacking in any spiritual gift…”
We, St Austin parish, or the Diocese of Austin, as a Christian community, are not lacking in any spiritual gift! We have among us all the gifts and talents we need as a community to follow the Lord fully and faithfully, even in the midst of economic and political turmoil, in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of confusion about going to church or staying home, in the pain of loneliness and isolation, in the face of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty.
St. Paul assures us: “He will keep you firm to the end.” We, as a Christian Community, as the Body of Christ, have the staying power to endure all the confusion, the misunderstanding, the opposition, the indifference and laziness, the scorn and opprobrium of the world, even our own faint-heartedness, and not only endure till the end, but to conquer overwhelmingly in Christ.
But we do NOT do this alone, by ourself. We need to rely on each other. We must each play our part. Maybe that is volunteering for a ministry in the parish. Maybe that is joining faithfully in worship virtually while the pandemic rages. Maybe that is striving to be more patient and more Christian with your family members, your neighbors, your fellow parishioners and others. Maybe it is to stretch to help with more of the special collections. Maybe it is to dedicate yourself more fully to prayer. Maybe it is to work to truly be grateful for what you have, not disappointed and resentful over what you lack.
Together, as the Body of Christ, we can rely upon the power of Christ, which is the power that not only created all that is, the entire universe, but also the power that decisively and completely beat death. You cannot get any more powerful than that.
So take heart. Our Christian family has been “enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, …, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift…” And that is Good News indeed!