Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Homily / January 27, 2019
Last Thursday, I went to the naturalization ceremony of a parishioner from St. Francis who became a US citizen. He’s a gentleman from Sri Lanka whose wedding I had at St. Francis in 2010. I’ve walked with him through the process of becoming a citizen, and he wanted me to attend the swearing-in ceremony. It was beautiful! Listening to the group make the oath of allegiance was moving and many had tears in their eyes. I was looking out over this sea of faces from so many countries all around the world – people of all races and colors and languages and cultures - all a picture of America.
St. Paul could have used that in our second reading today. Instead, he uses the image of the body to drive home the same message. Just as the many people at that swearing-in make up the one-and-the-same America, so do the many parts make up the one body of Christ. We all have a part to add, a part to play, a part that is absolutely necessary if the body is to fully function. Without even one part, the body cannot be its best.
As someone who has to preach every Sunday, it seems to me that as we move out of Christmastime and find ourselves back in Ordinary Time, this time of year focuses on baptism and all that baptism should mean to us in our lives. Two weeks ago, we celebrated the Baptism of Our Lord. And on that Sunday, my central message was that if we don’t do something after baptism, our baptism means very little. Last Sunday, the second reading spoke about the gifts that every single one of us has received from God because of our baptism – gifts that are meant to be shared with all for all.
Today, it gets a little more challenging. We’re still dealing with the after-effects of baptism and how we live our faith. The challenge today comes in our admission and acceptance and recognition that we need one another. That’s what being many parts of one body means. We are on this journey of life together. We can sit here and nod our heads as if to say, “That’s a nice message, Father.” But that’s a tough pill to swallow in real life! We don’t like to be in need of anything or anyone. It speaks of weakness, not strength. We prefer to do it alone and go it alone. The second reading tells us something different when it comes to our faith. We believe and we try to live as people who are interconnected, interdependent, needing one another and caring for one another. Until we recognize our own need as much as our giftedness, we are not a good part of this great Body of Christ.
St. Francis Church has a Gospel choir, and one song that many people love goes this way: I need you, you need me, we’re all a part of God’s body. You are important to me; I need you to survive. [It sounds a whole lot better when they sing it!] But it drives home the point that St. Paul makes today. We are all parts of this great Body of Christ. And as much as we contribute to the body, so too are we in need of the body and in need of what the other parts do for us in our lives. The song that I just sang puts it well: “I need you in order to survive.”