We heard both last week and this, Paul’s message to the Corinthians and us about gifts. Paul says that it is no longer necessary for Jesus to be physically present to us. The spirit distributes gifts to us, the baptized. We, with our gifts, blossom into the body of Christ. The church calls this the “mystical body of Christ.” We need our imaginations to conceive Jesus as the head and each of us as body parts. Mystical points to mysticism.

Huston Smith humorously, winsomely, and lucidly notes that mysticism begins with “mist,” ends with “schism,” and has an “I” in the middle. Appreciating who we are and who Christ is blurs the boundary between humanity and divinity in our relationship with God: it is “misty.” It also causes a “schism” - the schism of a break from our former understanding of distance and, perhaps, from those who still have that understanding. The “I” is not the ego, but the “I” of “I am who am,” the God we meet in the inner sanctum of our true self. We meet our neighbors there, too.

Because of our varied talents:

  • Some perform the function of his feet by taking Christ’s presence peacefully and prophetically to far away places;

  • Some perform the work of his hands in caring for children, for the sick, for the elderly;

  • Some perform the function of his heart in consoling the broken-hearted;

  • Some perform the work of his mouth in his work of teaching and preaching;

  • Some perform the work of his ears - listening compassionately;

  • Many multi-task.
We see a very clear image of the mystical body right here at mass. The Second Vatican Council in the Constitution the Liturgy #7 says: “No other action of the church equals its [Eucharist’s] title to power or to its degree of effectiveness.” We have a deacon, a celebrant, readers, we have Eucharistic ministers, and we have ministers of hospitality, ushers, altar servers, ministers of music. A sacristan, bread bakers, linen washers. Each contributes in an integral way to the celebration of Jesus’ presence in word and sacrament and in the presence of one another in community.

Eucharist exemplifies the reality that each of us has a function to perform in this body of Christ as hands, feet, heart, mouth, ears to one another. This is the “talent” piece of stewardship’s: time -treasure - talent.

Our culture focuses on celebrities in entertainment and sports. Now is the season for the “hooray for me” shows: Golden Globes, Emmys and Oscars and the various competitive music categories. I think these awards diminish the worth of real all-stars who are not in the limelight of competition but stand in the shadows of helpful cooperation. The truly beautiful people affirm that what God value is what is important. Beautiful people remember that a gift is a gift. We did not create this gift, so we cannot take undue pride in it. The only proper response is gratitude and good stewardship. We use our gifts in community, where we share our gifts.

Let us all realize that without any one of us, this community tends to diminish. We all need to affirm others around us and give each contributor his/her due. The greatest sign of respect we can give to others is giving them responsibility. Jesus could hardly show us greater respect when he does by asking us to continue his mission through him, with him, and in him.

Today’s second reading is the theological basis of the saying: “None of us has it all together - but together we do have it all.”