The Spirit Must Be Made Flesh
Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Year CII
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for today: 1Corinthians 12:12-31, Luke 7:11-17
The Responsorial (Psalm 100) is: “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.”
In 1Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul is not just telling us we are the real body of Christ on earth. He is telling us that fact should be visible: “It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body.” The reality, the truth of that body’s existence should be visible in our spirit of unity, in the love and acceptance we give to one another on those explicit grounds.
“All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.” If that is true, it should manifest itself in the “gifts of the Spirit.” “To each one,” Paul had just written, “the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” The Spirit is given to be “manifest,” made visible in the spiritual empowerment of “apostles, prophets, teachers, gifts of healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues.” In Paul’s day these gifts were expressed during Eucharist. In our day they may be operative in parish council meetings, religious education, ministry to the sick, works of social activism, and prophetic differences in lifestyle. But the life of the community should raise “irresistible questions” in people’s minds that cannot be answered without recognition of God’s divine life and Spirit present and active in the body.
Paul’s main point, however, is that without unity maintained through love, there is no visible presence of the Spirit. So he concludes, “Set your hearts on the greater gifts,” and launches into his famous “hymn to love” (chapter 13). We should point out, though, that this is even more a hymn to Christian maturity manifested in those who take responsibility, as faithful stewards, for “promoting the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
In Luke 7:11-17 it is in Jesus himself that the Spirit is manifest. When he was “moved with pity” for the widowed mother and told her, “Don’t cry,” he revealed his love. Then he revealed his power in raising the young man from the dead.
The crowd recognized the divine at work. They only credited Jesus with being a “great prophet,” but they knew that “God has visited his people.”
Our words and actions as Christ’s body on earth should make that, at least, obvious. Whenever we deal with people, something in us should make something in them “leap for joy.” Whether or not they are precise about its source. And if they are Christians, it should confirm their belief that “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.”
Initiative: Be a steward of belief in Christ’s presence. Take responsibility for speaking and acting in ways that reveal a love that, ultimately, and through its consistency, cannot be understood except as a manifestation of God’s life and Spirit within you. Work to change anything that obscures this in the Church.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry