THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
GIFTS IN THE BODY
September 16, 2014
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Paul asks the rhetorical questions: “Are all apostles?
Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds?
Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do
all interpret?” (v.29-30). The answer is “no,”
and Paul is simply emphasizing that different people have
On the other hand,
the answer can be “yes.” We need to distinguish
between the specific charismatic gifts enumerated by Paul
in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and gifts in general that are of
the same nature and purpose but which the Spirit, who blows
freely, can bestow on God’s people as the need arises.
For a particular person, the former are regular, while the
latter are occasional. The former are specialized gifts, while
the latter are general gifts. In both cases, the gifts are
given to people to use for building up the body and enabling
the community to do its mission.
Let me expound on this
Apostles are “those
sent.” The specific gift of apostleship was given to
the Twelve, to Paul, and to other individuals. On the other
hand, since an apostle is one who is sent, and since all Christians
are supposed to participate in the mission of proclaiming
the gospel, of sharing Christ, then all are apostles.
Prophets are those
designated by God to speak in His name. This specific gift
was given to the known prophets of the Old Testament, as well
as prophets of modern times. But all Christians are supposed
to participate in the mission of Jesus, that is, to be priest,
prophet and king. Thus all are also prophets. An illustration
of this in a community assembly is that the specifically-gifted
prophet might consistently speak a prophetic word, while everyone
else might speak every now and then, as they are led by the
The gift of healing
is given specifically to certain persons, and they come to
be known as healers, as they regularly go about their ministry
of healing. But everyone can and should pray for healing for
others, and God can use them to actually bring miraculous
It is the same with
being teachers, doing mighty deeds, speaking in tongues, having
the gift of interpretation, and so on.
The New Evangelization necessitates that we re-discover the
methodology of Pentecost. This includes the spiritual gifts
of 1 Corinthians 12 (and other passages), which are crucial
to the work of evangelization as intended by the Holy Spirit.
These gifts have been largely forgotten, ignored, even denigrated.
The Church has paid the price for this lapse, in seeing her
evangelization generally stalled throughout the world, and
even the body itself greatly weakened.
Now we are called to
the New Evangelization. Back to basics.