“It is important for the whole Church not to just leave it up to the ‘specialists’ to welcome the poor and promote justice.” — Papa Francesco
Ours is an age of specialization. The Corinthians heard that there are a variety of gifts and services and activities and that each is given a particular manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. But that chapter begins “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” (1 Cor. 12:1). Our spiritual gifts are not an invitation to specialization! We are to use all these gifts for the common good precisely by joining with others so that we can serve effectively as one Christian body: “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.” And you know how the passage continues: “If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. . . If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?” and so on.
We cannot leave welcoming the poor and promoting justice to someone else, to a specialist, while we carry on with whatever speciality we have taken up for ourselves. It’s no excuse to say that service and justice are not your gift; you don’t have to do it alone! Pope Francis also said in this same interview: “The poor need to be taken into account in the Church’s pastoral care programmes, in the training courses of future priests and monks, in the daily actions of all parishes, movements and ecclesial groups.”
Being a Christian means being part of a community, part of a body of individuals who bring their specialized gifts together to fulfill the call to charity and justice that is demanded of all Christians. To be disciple is to be a generalist. Liturgists must be concerned with charity and justice. Engineers, politicians, academics, mechanics, stay-at-home parents, artists, clerics, seniors and children, all Christians are generalists when it comes to discipleship.