From Sabine Schwartz, Catholic Chaplain:
There are probably few communities that are more fluid and changeable than a university chaplaincy: every year around this time, we are beginning afresh as a new community. and as a chaplain, I tend to ask myself, ‘What will it be like this year?’ Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on all of us: on those who work at the chaplaincy, but just as much on each and everyone who comes through the door and, to a greater and lesser extent, makes this place their home. Together, we are the church in this place and how lively, vibrant, welcoming, nurturing and holy this church is, depends on all of us. Each one of us has been given unique gifts and comes with a unique story and a unique sensitivity for God and for the world around him/her, and each one of us expresses something of God that no-one else on this world will ever be able to express. In the words of the 17th Century mystic Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks,
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet
with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands
with which he blesses all the world.
In my experience, one of the greatest obstacles in recognising and using our gifts lies in the tendency to compare ourselves, wondering whether we are better or worse, more or less gifted than others. In the Gospel passage that the Lectionary offers for this Sunday (Luke 18:9-14), it seems to me that the Pharisee’s problem lies not in the fact that he thanks God for his own virtue and good deeds, but in his ‘not being like all the others, and especially this tax collector’. Whether we consider ourselves more or less than others- as soon as we compare, we are always less than our true selves, and we always miss the point of God’s gift.