Principle of Life
We just heard a beautiful principle of life.
On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member… (1 Corinthians 12:22-24)
How nice it will be if our world is like this! There will be no discrimination because of who you are. Every person will be respected and appreciated. You don’t need to be somebody special to be honoured. There will be caring, uplifting, forgiving, and understanding.
In this principle, I see that all human beings are equally precious in God’s eyes. I see that all human beings are respected and protected.
That is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of UN.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
We can see this spirit in Paul’s thinking.
It doesn’t matter what you are going through… It doesn’t matter how you may feel about yourself. Every one of you is so precious in God’s eyes. So we should treat each other with respect. That’s how we human beings are supposed to live. We should honour each other’s dignity. That was what God wanted when he created us.
We are supposed to take care of each other. If you have more, you share with those who have less than you. If you have gifts, you use them to help and uplift others.
Unique and Connected
We talked about unique gifts we received two weeks ago. Each gift is unique and it is beautiful and precious. So each person is unique. We should honour and celebrate each person’s uniqueness.
We are unique but we also have to remember that we are interconnected. We are not alone. We are not supposed to live in isolation. We are connected.
Last Thursday, I visited In Ha and Hank’s sister at St. Michael. She was in a palliative care. She looked very peaceful. She knew that she would die soon. She asked Hank to call me. So I visited her. She said she was ready to die. She said she was ready for a long time. I have a lot of memory with the couple. It was hard to see her suffer and die at such a young age. It was hard for me to take it.On the way home, I felt very down. She passed away yesterday morning.
Yes, that’s who we are. We are unique, but we are also deeply connected.
That’s what St. Paul said,
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)
This world makes us become cold and indifferent. We are good only to those who matter to us. We honour those who are useful to us.
Our relationship has become functional and calculating. We have lost the ability to connect with each other simply as brothers and sisters.
We have to understand that without you, I am not complete. I am glad that you are in my life because without you, my life is not complete.
The Greatest Gift
The greatest gift is not what we have. The greatest gift is not the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of prophecy, or the gift of tongue. The greatest gift is each other. You are my greatest gift. God gave you to bless me. You are my blessings.
That’s why St. Paul concluded his teaching about the gifts with this.
Last 3 verses of chapter 12.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
BUT – A big BUT.
Strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:29-31)
Then he talks about love in chapter 13. That is the very famous love chapter.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
The greatest gift is each other. Your family is the greatest gift. Your friends are the greatest gift. Your sisters and brothers in this community are the greatest gift.
How hard it is to understand this message. Because in this world, we never experience this. We never think that people around me are the greatest gift. WHEN WE HAVE LOVE IN OUR HEART, WE SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL AND PRECIOUS OTHER PEOPLE ARE. When you have love, people around you become your gifts.
All One Body
That was what was lacking in the Corinthian community. They had many gifts. All kinds of gifts were there in that community. But they were not mature enough. They were not yet transformed by the love of Jesus Christ.
So, their gifts were not used to edify and uplift others. Instead of serving others with their gifts, they look down upon those who didn’t have many gifts or fantastic gifts. This brought division and some people felt excluded. When there is no love, our gifts become ugly. When there is no love, people around you become burden rather than gifts.
St. Paul saw that in the Corinthian community.
That’s why he said,
The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘ I have no need of you.’ (1 Corinthians 12:21)
When we are gifts to each other, the community becomes the real spiritual community. In this community, we will feel special. We will feel cared. We will feel blessed. Use your gifts to bless each other.
We have to help each other become the best they can be. Then in turn, they will become gifts to us. There should be no room for jealousy or comparison. We don’t need to compare ourselves with others. We are not in competition with others.
We are all in one body.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13)
To do this, love is necessary. So we need to cultivate love within us. This community is a beautiful community. Let us make this place a place where we bless each other. May this community be filled with love and so our shortcomings may be melted and our best gifts become manifested.