“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.” (I Cor 12:4-7)
The gifts that are mentioned above are as different and varied as the individuals to whom they are given. The “different forms of service” and “different workings” to which each of us is called are equally unique, and designed to be used to benefit the church and the world through discipleship and evangelization. It is clear from scripture and church teaching that our spiritual gifts are meant to be shared, and are of little use when we keep them to ourselves.
A visiting priest, during his homily one Sunday, used the example of a single pencil to make his “point” about individual weakness versus communal strength. Pretending to hold the pencil, he proceeded to break it in half with ease. He then asked the congregation to picture a dozen pencils banded together, and to imagine how hard it would be to accomplish the same action. He noted that each pencil was a different color and size to further punctuate the theme of unity and strength in diversity.
It is precisely because of our differences and diversity that we thrive and grow in the church and in the world. In God’s infinite creation, no two entities are alike. From snowflakes in nature to each human being whoever was, is or will be, our unique, individual composition can only be fully realized in community. When Jesus sent His disciples forth, they were sent not as individuals, but in pairs:
“Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (Mark 6:7-11)
In addition to having companionship, those sent would have the advantage of combining their skills and individual gifts for the mission at hand. The mission of the Early Church is the mission of today’s church: to bring Christ to others using the unique gifts that God has given to each of us.