One body, many members – Tuesday, 24th week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27-31a

One body, many members – Tuesday, 24th week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27-31a

Chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians gives us an insight into the spiritual gifts of the community. There were some in the community who claimed to speak under the spontaneous inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These ‘prophets’ (verse 28) or ‘spiritual’ men (14:37) had provoked a sense of one-upmanship, leading to a rivalry in the community. They portrayed themselves as being better as they had the gift of tongues (also called glossolalia) and the gift of prophecy. As a consequence, some leaders lacking these gifts were being lightly esteemed.

Paul approaches this matter with concern and caution. Paul reminds the Corinthians that all ecstatic communication may not be from God. It was evident that some religious ecstasy that they were indulging in resembled the religious ecstasy of the pagans and that the mere fact of ecstatics in their worship was insufficient evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God. Therefore, it is necessary to test the spirits.

Paul also acknowledges that only some persons have the capacity to distinguish between spirits (vs. 10) and that this capacity is itself a gift inspired by the Spirit of God (vs. 4-6). Paul gives us a thumb rule when looking at the gifts given by God. There are (a) a variety of gifts (b)there is one source of these gifts and (c) their common purpose is clear, viz. the good of the entire community rather than of isolated individuals. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 mentions these gifts as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Notice; while the gift of tongue were flaunted by some as a special gift, Paul not only mentions it last in this list but also mentions it last again in verses 27 and 28. There is a human tendency to be dazzled by the spectacular. The gift of miracles may far outshine in our simplistic thinking, the gift of faith. It is for this reason that Paul stresses a variety of gifts.

It is in this context that our text of today rolls in with a practical application; that of the human body. Just as a living organism depends on the proper functioning of not merely some but all of its parts, so does the Church. It cannot thrive if it only considers some members like the “prophets” and the “spiritual” men important to its well-being and the rest nonessential.

Remember that Paul is addressing their spiritual concerns (12:1) and his message is meant to be instructive. What is honoured by God and in the church seems foolish to the world, which commonly honours spectacular gifts. Every gift from God is a gift from God.


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2 thoughts on “One body, many members – Tuesday, 24th week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27-31a”

  • i remember being invited to a sunday worship by some christian church where some worshippers were supposed to have the ‘gift of tongues’. this sure made me inquisitive, so i asked my hostess in what language would they speak and she said it was not something that normal people would understand as it was some old languages inspired/guided by the holy spirit. so i asked if i could tape record these people speaking in tongues to which i was clearly told ‘NO’. anyway i still attended and i was closely watched. what i heard was a babbles of sounds by some and i noticed one indian man (the only coloured in the congregation) who looked around before he started his own babble, which i thought was to impress me, though i saw through the FAKE.
    there is a prominent ex-tennis player now called margaret court, who runs her own church in perth. australia, and she too babbles, ANOTHER FAKE! how i know that is i know the family through where i worked in a nursing home. none of the family would visit the old suffering step-mother.

  • Thank you, Father Warner. I am a Lector in a Parish and I have been listening to your commentaries on the First Reading which have helped me to proclaim the Word of God to the people attending the Service, in a far better manner then I would have been able to do otherwise. These first reading passages are often too difficult to understand, and your commentary helps us to put the text for the day in context and also understand both the core message as well as its practical applications in our daily life. I have started sharing these commentaries with my fellow lectors and with my friends who are lovers of the Word of God. Thank you, father, for your tireless efforts in teaching us the Word of God and for putting us in a position to recommend these priceless resources to others to help them become better Disciples of Christ. May God bless you abundantly always. Have a blessed day.  


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