SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Our parish, St. Michael’s Church is often described as the “United Nations”; a Church made up of many nationalities and ethnicities. As I read this Sunday’s 2nd Reading, this description of our Church came to my mind when St. Paul says, “There is only but one body”—unity in diversity. The Church is one body and humanity is one body. Unfortunately, “One Body”, unity in diversity, does not just happen; it is always the product of hard work. Our natural tendency is to focus on our differences, on what divides us; on what separates us; and not on what unites us. But Paul makes the important point that God has chosen us to be Christ’s representatives in this world thereby challenging us to live lives worthy of being called Christ’s very own—the ones who are focused on the one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. That is to say, those who are focused on appreciating people of different origins and backgrounds, of different ethnicities and colors, of different gifts and talents, and who can see how our differing gifts and viewpoints complement the body of Christ and help move humanity to a greater unity.
Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we are called to complement each other and see ourselves as part of one body that must, by necessity, work together to achieve God’s covenanted destiny for humanity—that they may all be one. Making disciples in every nation involves preaching, teaching, healing, nurturing, giving, administering, building, and many other tasks. As an individual, none of us can accomplish this task; we might as well not even try. But as members of one body, we can. The temptation is always to overestimate what we can do by ourselves and to underestimate what we can do as a group. Each and every one of us is needed to make this parish work; to make it thrive, to keep it alive and going, to make it a beacon of faith and hope.
To do this, we must be willing to make some sacrifices.
We need to remain humble, gentle, patient, understanding, peaceful and appreciative of our diversity.
We need to appreciate that no one is ever going to be perfect here on earth and so we must accept others despite their faults. We may run into fellow members whose actions or personality really annoy us. Rather than dwelling on their weaknesses or looking for faults to accuse and to point at, let us pray for them or even be more Christian by finding ways to spend some time together with them and try to understand them and learn from them.
We need to keep our focus on God, not on ourselves, and to ask God to use our unique gifts and talents to contribute to the strength and health of our parish. We need to remember that when we are joined with Christ, He forms us into a group united in purpose and in love for one another and for Him.
So, let us look for ways to celebrate and empower one another, to encourage and uplift one another, to support and care for what is important for others knowing that others will be there for us when we need them. In this way, we can keep this Church alive and thriving, growing and expanding both in ministry and in our mission. May we always remember that God is counting on each and every one of us to make this happen!