Working Together Towards a Common Purpose

From the 20-Week Discernment Series, by Benedictine Volunteers

The Benedictine Volunteers’ 20-Week Vocational Discernment Series is inspired by the Synod of Bishops’ “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” Preparatory Document. In this reflection, we review Week 10: “A Community of Service: Working Together Towards a Common Purpose.”

How can our individual gifts and talents come together as community to contribute to a shared mission? How does community offer us opportunities for service and invite us into solidarity with our brothers and sisters?

1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 paints a beautiful image of the body of Christ as a metaphor of different gifts and talents working together collaboratively within a community. When all our individual gifts come together towards a common purpose like different body parts working together to help the body be healthy and functioning, our communities become vibrant and stronger. When firmly rooted in its common purpose, a community is enriched and inspired by all the unique parts that make up the whole. We need each other’s gifts because alone we are not as effective. Just like the eye needs the hand and the head needs the feet, we are called to work together.

“Young people appreciate the choice of working together… exercising leadership directed to improving the environment in which they love and of seeking opportunities to acquire and refine, in a practical way, useful skills for life and work.”  – Synod Preparatory Document

When we work together, we learn from one another, fill each other’s gaps, and strengthen the whole. This transformative merging of talents and collaborative sharing is reflected in Jesus’ own communal life. Along his journey, Jesus constantly travels with a community of disciples who each carry their own unique personalities and gifts. Peter brings denial, which is transformed into leadership. Thomas brings doubt, which is transformed into faith. Simon brings zealousness, which is transformed into compassion. By working side-by-side with Jesus and one another in community, the disciples experience transformation by contributing to the whole and allowing the whole to transform them.

We form community by giving away our gifts, and conversely, the community forms us by helping us refine our personal skills and acquire new skills through our observing and learning from those around us. Communities are spaces of opportunity for service, inviting us to exercise our individual gifts and talents. Communities are also spaces of living and sharing in solidarity with others, offering us friends, companions, and teachers along the journey.

By respecting and honoring the variety of talents others bring into community, we can work together, as did Jesus and the disciples, sharing God’s message of love.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Spend some time prayerfully with 1 Corinthians 12: 12-26. What body part/function
    most resonates with who you are? How are your gifts and talents similar to this part
    of the whole?
  2. Which body part/function least resonates with you? Is there anyone in your life who
    seems to fill this part better? How do you see your role and theirs working together?
  3. Recall a time you were transformed by community. How did that feel? What insights did you learn about yourself and others?

Thank you for reading! The Staying Connected newsletter is made possible through the partnership of Catholic Volunteer Network and Catholic Apostolate Center.

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