1st Corinthians – Spiritual Gifts and Body Life

December 20, 2008

Paul addresses spiritual gifts in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. He knows the Church does not realize their low level of spiritual maturity; but their arrogant, impatient and factious ways indict them. So misguided is this Church that they act against the teachings of both Paul and the Council of Jerusalem. This chapter showcases him again pleading with the people like they are close family members.

He knows that the Corinthians have a good foundation of catechesis, but that many are either practicing dead-letter religion or are misappropriating their gifts. He addresses this by reiterating that all who are of Christ receive spiritual gifts and they must be exercised for the common good. A variety of gifts among individuals in a community provide the essential elements of Christian life. He lists numerous gifts, but "all […] are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who appropriations to each one individually as he wills. 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" (v 11-12). Paul’s language makes one question whether this factious Church was marginalizing individuals who had particular spiritual gifts as less important than those with other gifts. He stresses the equality of the people of God, for "the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable" (v. 22). Because the members of the Corinthian Church are one body, Paul chastises them for their disunity and urges them to love one another.

A loving, family life is so characteristic of genuine Christian life, as expressed in the thirteenth chapter. Sadly, this type of love is so uncharacteristic of modern Catholicism in America. Paul exhorts the Corinthian Church to this love and what love is and what it is not (cf. v. 4-8). He also makes it clear that they must all love more genuinely.

Music: Moritz Moszkowski’s 3 Moments Musicaux Op. 7 – Tranquillo e semplice, from the album Moments Musicaux, performed by Elizabeth Wolff. www.magnatune.com

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