Paul on Paul – 23rd May 2021

Pentecost Sunday; Year B
1 Corinthians 12: 3B-7; 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.vFor in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.


Pentecost is the end of the Easter Season in the Church. It signals the end of the season of celebration and institution for the Church – it’s first principles, it’s original mission – to the real life of the church. The work that it was institued for remains our work 2000 year later. And the same Lord, the same Spirit that descended upon the Apostles, descended upon us at our Baptism and Confirmation. And it descended upon us with the same purpose.

Which is not to say that we all have the same job towards that same purpose. After spending Easter time with John’s letters, we are back to Paul’s letters. Both wrote to the early Christians, both for the same purpose of sharing knowledge of God, but both with different emphasies. Think of the Gospels – all sharing the same fundemental truth of Jesus Christ, but each emphasing different aspects of Jesus (as a Messiah, as a King, as a God).

It’s this unity in difference that St. Paul – who’s emphasis was on the practical works of Christianity – is referring to in this Sunday’s 2nd Reading: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. We can eaily be envious of someone elses talents or role or position – but we are all working towards the same goal, our task given by God. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit

And, to take that furhter, without each doing their own role – not someone else’s – then any project is doomed to failure. We know this from families or workplaces, where too many people want to lead, but not enough people want to do the hard labour. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body. We, as a Church, a family, a workplace, a society are separated parts of one whole – not a whole in ourselves.

And finally, Paul makes a statement that woudl have been incendary for the 1st Century Jew – “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit”. Jew and non-Jew being equal would have been scandalous; those in bondage and those over them being equal would have up-ended social relations…but that is what the Sprit of God demands.

Christianity is a radical proposition if done correctly. that is the challenge is for us to remember that we all, too, regardless of our station in life, our income, our national or ethnic background, our past actions, or our immigration status are “…all the parts of the body” that Paul writes about this weekend – and the challenge for us is to think and act accordingly. To think and act in accordance with the Sprit of God’s love that we have recieved.

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