Though we are many, we are one body

3 Epiphany: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21

The beginning of today’s reading from 1 Corinthians offers a radically inclusive vision of the church. We were all baptized into one spirit, Paul tells us, whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free. The rest of the passage uses the metaphor of the body to insist that we are all important, whatever our gifts and whoever we are. There’s a tension, at least for the modern reader, between the insistence on the importance of all, the shared spirit, and the hierarchical vision of both gifts and the body. But the point of one body, while there are, Paul suggests, less respectable and more respectable members, we all depend on each other. Paul says that “the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensible”.

In today’s gospel, Luke tells the story of Jesus preaching in the synagogue where he grew up. Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah, where Isaiah announced that he brings “good news to the poor . . . release toe the captives and recovery of sight to the blind”. If the reading was familiar, none of his listeners expected him to tell them that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It is Jesus’ radical proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

Let the oppressed go free. Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. We can only help bring Jesus’ proclamation to life if we remember we are one body, and that we depend on all the members of that body. Most of us have at least on member we would rather not depend on, but that’s not our choice! Recognizing the other members of the one body is often hard, but it is our challenge and our task.

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