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May 2009
(First published in January 1979)

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. (1 Peter 4:10)

Edith was from Sardinia. She had been blind from birth and lived in a home for the blind. The chaplain was no longer able to celebrate mass because his legs were paralysed, so it was decided to remove Jesus in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, from the house. Edith went to the Bishop to ask that the one light in their darkness be left them. She gained permission and at the same time was appointed an extraordinary minister for the distribution of Holy Communion to the chaplain and the other residents.

She wanted to make herself useful and managed to get several hours broadcasting time on a local radio station. She used the radio to offer the best things she had: advice, helpful ideas, explanations of moral issues. She gave support to those who suffer by sharing her experience. I could say so much about Edith. She was blind yet suffering gave her light.

But how many other examples I could give! Goodness exists yet makes no noise. Edith put Christianity into practice. She knew that each of us has gifts and she put hers at the service of others.

Yes, because 'gift' (or 'charism', using the word from the Greek) doesn't mean just the graces with which God enriches those who have to govern the Church. Nor does it refer just to those extraordinary gifts that God reserves to send directly to a particular Christian for the good of all, when he thinks the Church needs to sort out an exceptional situation, or a grave danger, that the current institutions can't cope with. Such things include wisdom, knowledge, the power to work miracles, speaking in tongues, the charism of giving life to a new spirituality in the Church, and many others.

These are not the only gifts or charisms. There are also other simpler ones that many people have, and we can see them in the good they bring about. The Holy Spirit is still at work.

Besides, natural talents can also be called gifts or charisms. Each of us is gifted therefore: including you.

How should you use your gifts? Think how you could make them bear fruit. They have been given to you not just for yourself but for the good of all.

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

The variety of gifts is immense. Each person has his or her own, and so each of us has a specific role in the community.

But how about you, what are your gifts? Have you a qualification? Have you ever thought of putting aside an hour or two a week for somebody who needs to learn or somebody who cannot afford to study?

Are you particularly generous-hearted? Have you ever thought of mobilizing people who still wish to work for the good to help the poor, the marginalized, and restore a sense of human dignity to the hearts of many? ...

Are you good at comforting others? Are you good at looking after the house, at cooking, at making clothes out of very little or at doing practical jobs? Look around and see who needs you.

It pains me to see people looking for or giving lessons on how to fill in their free time. We Christians just don't have any free time as long as on this earth there is one person who is sick, starving, imprisoned, ignorant, in doubt, sad, on drugs ... an orphan, a widow....

And don't you think prayer is a great gift to be made use of, since in each moment you can turn to God who is present everywhere?...

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

Just imagine what the Church would be like if all Christians, from children to adults, did all they could to put their gifts at the service of others.

Love for one another would acquire such strength, such fullness, such importance that... it would be possible to recognize the disciples of Christ....

If this is the outcome, then why not do all you can to achieve it?

Chiara Lubich


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