Isaiah 62: 1-5, Psalm 95, 1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 11, John 2: 1- 12
First of all, Happy New Year, to all our readers, who avail of our preaching through the website. On the first day of the year, the Book of Numbers sends us a blessing and I want to share that with you now. It reads ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace’.
This Sunday the Second Reading from 1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 11, details Paul’s specific teaching on what the spiritual gifts are, who receives them, and why they are given. Each one of us who believes in Jesus is spiritual, because each Christian has God’s Spirit with them. These gifts are given for the common good, to be used in service. Nobody acquires or earns these gifts and no one gift makes a Christian more important than another.
The reading begins by stating, ‘There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord, working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them’.
There can be no doubt that a variety of gifts were at work in the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who sadly passed away on December 26, 2021. His friendship with Nelson Mandela contributed to the South African anti- apartheid and their leadership inspired a generation of African leaders to embrace a non-violent approach to the liberation struggle. In these two men we see how the Lord uncovered his face for us and continues to lead us forward as a people into peace.
As I put myself into the shoes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I ask, where did he get the courage to speak and act as he did? Did he find inspiration in the opening lines from the Prophet Isaiah, ‘About Zion I will not be silent, about Jerusalem I will not grow weary, until her integrity shines out like the dawn and her salvation flames like a torch?’. Here we can hear Archbishop Tutu, speaking as an intercessor, not growing weary, from dawn to dusk for his beloved country, South Africa. Had he reached a point, and said, I will not be silent, I will speak out and act on behalf of my people?
We heard at his funeral liturgy, in the sermon delivered by Reverend Michael Nuttall, there were three P’s about the Archbishop, he was the prophet, the pastor and the pray-er. He rose at four in the morning each day to pray, to meditate, to contemplate and to intercede. This is surely where he got his mind cleared, renewed his energy, gained insights, grew in courage and wisdom. The Archbishop’s response to grave injustice came from the depths of his being and often in response to what he called ‘the divine nudge’, for, as the Corinthians reading states, ‘the particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose’.
The divine nudge is occurring all the time for us too. The Spirit prompts us to to act in the way Archbishop Tutu did all his life. His response to the Spirit is summed up in the words of Micah 6:8 “to pursue justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”
South Africa sang a new song with Archbishop Desmond Tutu Today’s Responsorial Psalm 95 is a song of liberation.
O sing a new song to the Lord
sing to the Lord all the earth,
O sing to the Lord bless his name.
As we begin this new year, many will consider, even briefly, a resolution to follow. Would you consider making the words from the Prophet Micah your own, and see what happens in your life as you pursue justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with your God?
Fionnuala Quinn O.P.