Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Looking Ahead to Sunday's Readings

I don't usually comment on Sunday's readings in advance.  I sometimes comment on readings after I hear them and hear the priest's interpretation in the homily.  I sometimes comment on readings during the week just as the days go by.  But this weekend, I am actually doing what priests generally hope the congregation will do and encourage the congregation to do--reading the readings, processing the readings, and thinking about the readings in advance.  That way, my read, my ideas, and my interpretation can come right up against the priest's, get mixed around, and come out with even more insight at the end.  At least I hope.  It should make the readings more interesting for me to listen to.

Sunday is the second Sunday in ordinary time, the Feast of St. Sebastian (January 20), and the day when much of Baltimore will tune into a Ravens game.  So, I'll be listening to readings, thinking about how they relate to me and to the saint in whom I have taken a larger interest, and taking in the mass while many are worried about how quickly the 5:30 mass will end so they can get home to see the Ravens game.  I enjoy watching football, but in my mind the mass remains more important--particularly as someone involved in the music ministry.  So, I will just take it all in and go watch whatever remains of the game when mass is done.

I think I'll comment on the second reading first.  The second reading is 1 Cor 12:4-11.  The reading talks about how there is just one spirit but how the spirit gives many gifts.  The gifts that are enumerated include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, varieties of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.  Whether the list was intended to be exhaustive or not is not relevant here.

The key is that there are many different gifts.  Gifts that I have been given.  Gifts that my favorite saint was given.  Sometimes as I have gone through my own life, I have felt as though the spirit of God (perhaps coming back to the ruach from Sunday) has given me different types of gifts.  The variations I have experienced make life incredibly interesting.

The reading also explicitly states that different people are given different gifts.  Not everyone has the same gifts.  Not everyone is asked to use them in the same way.  Everyone, however, is asked to use their gifts, but there is plenty of variation in how and when, and even how people interpret their gifts.  For this reason, I try not to judge.

I have no way of knowing what gifts anyone else has been given and whether they have been able to maximize their use or not.  It is for God to figure out.  My job is to set an example of maximizing the utilization of my own gifts and hope that others will follow suit.  It is incredible to imagine what life might be like if everyone made the effort to maximize the use of their gifts and did not use their gifts to denigrate others.  I am not saying that everyone should work together for a common good necessarily.  But if everyone at least worked for their own good and did not trample others in the process and put the gifts they have been given to their ultimate use, we might have a much different, much better, much more prosperous, much less stressed out, world.

Here's to hoping.  

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