“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Edith, a young woman from Sardinia who has been blind from birth, lives in an institution for the blind. One day, the chaplain became paralyzed and could no longer celebrate Mass. Because of this, it was decided that the Eucharist could no longer be kept in the chapel. When Edith heard about this, she asked the bishop to let them keep the Eucharist, for it was the only light in their dark world. He granted her request and also gave her permission to distribute communion to the chaplain and the other residents.
In her desire to help others, Edith also took on the responsibility of preparing a radio program that is broadcast a few hours every week. She uses this program to share the best that she has to offer; advice, sound thinking and the explanation of moral issues to those who are suffering in order to give them strength. And there is much more that could be said about Edith. Although she is blind, her suffering has given her light.
I could give you other examples as well. There is goodness in the world that often goes unnoticed. Edith lives out her Christianity: she knows that each of us has received gifts from God and she has put hers at the service of others.
Yes, because the word “gift,” or “charism,” does not refer only to those graces that God gives to those who govern His Church. Nor does it refer only to those extraordinary gifts that God gives directly to individual Christians for the good of all when they are needed to solve a particular problem in the Church, or in times of serious danger when the existing institutions are not sufficient. Such gifts include wisdom, knowledge, the power to work miracles, the gift of tongues, the charism to generate a new spirituality in the Church, and so on.
These, moreover, are not the only gifts or cahrisms. There are other, more ordinary ones that many people possess and that are noticeable because of the good they bring about. The Holy Spirit is always at work. Furthermore, natural talents can also be considered as gifts or charisms. Everyone, therefore, is gifted. You, too.
How should you use your gifts? Try to make them bear fruit. They were not given to you for your own benefit alone but, rather, for the good of all.
There is a great variety of gifts. Since each person has his or her own gifts, each one also has a specific role to fulfill in the community.
Tell me, what gifts do you have? Do you have a degree? Did you ever think, for instance, of setting aside a few hours each week to teach those who need help, those who cannot afford to pay for their studies?
Are you a generous person? Did you ever think of getting together with other people of good will in order to help the poor and the outcasts of society? By doing this, you could restore a true sense of human dignity to many hearts…
Are you able to comfort others? Are you good at housekeeping, cooking, sewing or crafts? Look around to see who might need your help.
It’s painful to see how many people are bored because they don’t know what to do with their free time. We Christians do not have free time not as long as on this earth there are the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned, the ignorant, the uncertain, the unhappy, the addicted, the physically challenged, the orphaned, the widowed.
And think of prayer. It is such a powerful gift that we can use at any time, since in every moment we can turn to God who is present everywhere.
Can you imagine what the Church would be like if all Christians, children as well as adults, shared with others the graces they have received? Their mutual love would become so real, so abundant and so striking that non-Christians would be able to recognize them as true disciples of Christ.
For an outcome such as that, don’t you think you ought to do all you can to bring it about?
By: Chiara Lubich
The Word of Life, a sentence of Scripture, is offered monthly as a guide and inspiration for daily life. Its translation into 90 different languages and dialects reaches several million people worldwide, through print, radio, TV and the internet. From the Focolare’s beginnings, Chiara Lubich wrote her commentaries on each “Word of Life,” and after her death on March 14, 2008, her early writings are now being featured once again. This commentary, addressed to primarily Catholic audience, was originally published in January 1979.
If you would like to read experiences of life related to this or to past “Word of Life,” they can be found in Living City, the monthly magazine for the Focolare Movement (in print or online) or in books published by New City Press. Visit the website: www.livingcitymagazine.com; www.newcitypress.com. Visit the international website: www.focolare.org. You can subscribe to Living City magazine by writing to: Focolare Movement, P.O. Box 69523, 5845 Yonge St., Willowdale, ON M2M 4K3.