I sometimes find myself marveling at God’s timing. Amazingly for us, the first two readings after the Haitian earthquake are the entirety of 1 Corinthians 12. Last week, Bishop Scarfe point out how the Spirit gives us each a gift as part of our baptismal and confirmational covenant with God, and that gifting takes place within the context of the wider body we call the Church. In a real sense, God equips His body, the church, with all the tools, talents, and resources necessary for it to accomplish His ministry.
St. Paul’s carries that teaching a bit further by reminding us how our parts of our body are dependent upon others to do their job completely and effectually. Hands pick up small things so that the eyes may examine them a bit closer; the feet take the head to various places so that it can examine, process, and understand better the world around us. And so, the whole body, just like the whole Church, requires all its members to function efficiently and completely.
But, like the Corinthians, we sometimes like to tell God what gifts we want. We often value miracle workers or healers or those gifted with tongues more that intercessors or teachers because of the “wow” factor. We neglect to honor the ones who show hospitality among us or the ones who interpret or the ones who provide assistance because they are so ordinary. We want a God who makes a splash! We want a God who does remarkable things! We want a God who makes us appear remarkable!
Yet, buried in these verses are the workers of power. We often think of them as miracle workers, as our translators think of dunamis (and its other Greek forms -- the words which become dynamic in English) as bordering on the spectacular. It does border on the spectacular, but not in the ways most of us think. For Paul, particularly in this letter, the true power (dunamis) of God and His people flows from the cross. And so, as Paul in 1 Cor 1:18-2:5 reminds us, true power reflects Christ’s cross and flows from our identification with Him. Thus, workers of power, for Paul, become those who reflect the sacrifice and love shown forth for us on the cross. And God honors that sacrifice, and glorifies His Son, by taking the ordinary and making it appear extraordinary, by taking death to one’s self and raising new life in others.
The world will no doubt, in the coming weeks and months, tell us how we Christians are wasting our times with Haiti. Thieves will steal our money. Politicians will siphon off the material goods meant for those devastated by the earthquake. Heck other Christians will explain to us that they are little more than pagan savages who practice voodoo. The need will be simply too great, and we will be far too few. And in that dying to self, in that willingness to trust God to redeem, life will be brought back to Haiti. And we, His people, will become workers of power! It may seem foolish to those around us that we concern ourselves with those such as the Haitians. Then again, St. Paul often reminded us that the way of the cross seemed foolish to the wise and those on their way to death. Only those who are alive in Christ and in the process of being saved see the cross for what it was and is: the promise of God’s mercy and the sheer redemptive power of His love!