Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

Share On

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Corinthians 12, 12-31

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts -- all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body -- so it is with Christ.

We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink.

And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many.

If the foot were to say, 'I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,' it does not belong to the body any the less for that.

Or if the ear were to say, 'I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,' that would not stop its belonging to the body.

If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling?

As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose.

If they were all the same part, how could it be a body?

As it is, the parts are many but the body is one.

The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' and nor can the head say to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'

What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones.

It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability

which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it,

and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others.

If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy.

Now Christ's body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole.

And those whom God has appointed in the Church are, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after them, miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues.

Are all of them apostles? Or all prophets? Or all teachers? Or all miracle-workers?

Do all have the gifts of healing? Do all of them speak in tongues and all interpret them?

Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Paul uses the example of one body with many members to clarify the necessary variety of charisms, which are all given to the Church to build up the unity of the body. The image that Paul uses is an effective one, and it allows us to see the Church as the “body of Christ,” animated by the one Spirit. The apostle will develop this theme better in the letter to the Ephesians. Here, he emphasizes unity by referring to the one baptism: “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (v. 13). And, Paul adds, “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many” (v. 14); its unity, however, is given by the Spirit. This image helps us to understand better that the Christian community is not the sum of individual people - it is not the fruit of the juxtaposition of so many individuals next to each other. The Church is not born from individual people or from one person’s efforts; rather, it is an organic body made and animated by the one Spirit. Consequently, we have to say that the Church is born from on High from God. And it is the Lord who arranges the different parts in an orderly manner so that they form one body. Consequently every single part, every single disciple, has his or her own task and his or her own functions, which cannot be done by anyone else. These parts are not absolute and unique, but they are all indispensible, each with its own function. Indeed, if there is any preference to be given, it should be given to the “inferior” parts. In these pages written by the apostle, we once again find the preferential love for the weak that is attested to in all of Scripture. And in any case, “the members,” the apostle emphasizes, “have the same care for one another.”