Reflections on the Readings
January 24, 2015 - Year C
The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dennis S. Hankins
The Unity of the Faith— How Beautiful is the Body of Christ
If one member suffers all suffer together. If one member is honored all rejoice together. Now are you the Body of Christ and individually members of it. (1st Corinthians 12:26-27)
What we have in common is greater than what makes us different. This premise guides ecumenical dialogue and relationships among all Christians.
We living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (1st Peter 2:5).
Having tasted the kindness of the Lord, the early Church had all things in common with each member given to drink of the same Spirit.
They devoted themselves to one another and to the teaching of the apostles and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
In Ephesians 4:11 Paul explains that to the Church was given Apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up the Body of Christ until we attain the unity of the faith, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Here are several practical realities of the unity of the faith. First, it inspires a rich and effective prayer life in every member.
Jesus said, " If two of you agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask it shall be done for them of my father who is in heaven. (Matt. 18:19)
This is a recipe for miracles, for the blessing and help for each member of the precious Body of Christ.
Secondly, the unity of faith inspires a mutual love and respect, making us mindful of the unique relationships that are ours in the Body of Christ.
Thirdly, the unity of the faith inspires an expectation and longing for the fulness of the Holy Spirit. St. John xxiii convened the 2nd Vatican ecumenical Council with this prayer: "Renew thy wonders in this our day as by a new Pentecost!" At the first Pentecost, the Church is all together in prayer, including the Apostles, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women. They were in prayerful waiting for what Jesus described as the Promise of the Father—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Wait in the city until you are clothed with power!" (Acts 1:8) And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, there came a sound from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house and their hearts, and thus was each one filled with the Holy Spirit and began to rejoice and praise God in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance— speaking of the wonderful works of God.
Fourth, the unity of the faith inspires our confession and conviction that Jesus is Lord!
Not Paul, not Cephas, not Appolos, but Jesus alone is Lord and and He is Lord over all things in heaven and on earth.
Fifth, the unity of the faith inspires us to be a vibrant and spiritually gifted witness for Jesus who said, "You shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth."
In this Sunday's gospel Jesus exclaims, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me to preach glad tidings to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Amen ! Let us embrace this year of mercy and be fervent in the Spirit, eager to share a grace of the Spirit and to be the face of Jesus for someone today, the gentle and hope-filled voice of Jesus to someone who needs encouragement and also to be the nailed-scarred hand of Jesus touching someone who needs a prayer of comfort and healing. He confirms our witness and words and service with signs following! In the mighty name of Jesus, who in his infinite mercy continues to go about in our witness of him doing good and bringing his healing love and forgiveness to all oppressed by the devil. (Acts10:38) May it be so. And May our Lord ever fill us with his Holy Spirit and fire!
Amen and Amen!!
Proclaim him and bless his name;
for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
his faithfulness through all the ages.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com