SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Unity in Diversity - Different Routes Lead to One Final Destiny
First Reading (Is 62: 1-5): God's love for the Israelites
Second Reading ( 1 Cor 12:4-11): All spiritual gifts come from the one Spirit
Gospel (Jn 2:1-12): The wedding at Cana
“In spring visit places of scented flowers, in summer enjoy the green lotus pond; in autumn drink chrysanthemum wine, in winter sing a song of snow.”(1)
-“Though the Creator does not speak He has sympathy. At the end of every winter spring is felt, a thousand and a million shades of red and purple are arranged just waiting for the first sound of the new thunder.(2).
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each it is the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good... All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Cor 12: 4-11)
The entire chapter 12 of the second letter to the Corinthians discusses the 'gifts of the Spirit' (charisms), the oneness of the Church and the inseparable inter-relationship between the two. The selections from the above Scripture reading refer to the kinds of gifts or charisms and their variety.
First, there are different kinds of charisms; secondly, all of them come from the one and only Spirit; thirdly, all are given for the benefit of humankind; and fourthly, no one can limit the abundance of the Spirit’s gifts.
We thank God for granting us a Church so filled with the Holy Spirit who spreads his charisms throughout the world. Our Church is not only a perfect temporal society, it is also a spiritual community. Our world does not have only a material side to it, it is also filled with spiritual graces from above.
God originally made a world of great variety yet unified, colorful as the rainbow. It was a beautiful world of great variety, certainly not a world which was dull, unchangeable, or the same all over.
In this beautiful world, there are no two tree leaves exactly the same and the clouds are ever changing. The four seasons follow one on the other regularly, autumn harvests provide for the winter, cold comes after summer heat. This gives us an opportunity to “in spring visit places of scented flowers, in summer enjoy the green lotus pods, in autumn drink chrysanthemum wine and in winter sing a song of snow.” (1) No wonder a friend from Singapore commented that it could be very boring living in Singapore because it is summer throughout the year. People there wear only ‘Hawaiian” shirts all their lives!
The world that has been sanctified and hallowed by the Holy Spirit's blessing is truly beautiful. The Holy Spirit also has filled the earth with spiritual gifts (charisms) which the Spirit has bestowed on the Church. As the spring breezes blow till the land turns green and the flowers begin to bloom, so the Holy Spirit, like the wind, fills the world with fruitfulness and vitality.
In the Ching dynasty, the poet Zhang Wei Bing wrote a poem entitled 'New Thunder.' He describes a material world which is also a spiritual world filled with millions of colors. He says it in this way, “Though the Creator does not speak He has sympathy. At the end of every winter spring is felt, a thousand and a million shades of red and purple are arranged just waiting for the first sound of the new thunder.”(2)
The Church in fact is a body of 'many colors', that is, of great variety. Within the Church we can see different lay organizations, different parishes and religious communities, different spiritual movements, a great variety of virtues practiced by different saints. Within this 'one' Church, there are cloistered religious whose chief work is prayer and cloistered men and women who do manual labor, those who often engage in demonstrations and protests, those who are involved in social action. We have a comparatively conservative theology and also 'liberation theology' which emphasizes a viewpoint from the grassroots.
Externally we see many different kinds of Christians, different sects, a variety of cultures. From earliest times till now we see a variety of 'great heroes' or saints, each with a different style which contributes to society, enriches cultures and helps build up human society.
We believe the Holy Spirit is the source of all truth, goodness, beauty and holiness. All that is good, true and beautiful in this world comes from the Holy Spirit. “God allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” No one person or organization, including the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, can monopolize the actions of the Holy Spirit or limit the Spirit's mysterious work of sanctification.
Heroic, generous, open to all - these are characteristics of the God of unlimited tolerance. In today's Gospel, we read about the miracle of turning water into wine which shows God's generosity. Six big jars, each holding about 100 liters of water, all turned into wine, 'good wine' (XO!) the Gospel says. Truly, the wine 'made by Jesus' could not but be good wine!
This story has many lessons: Blessed Mother's concern and carefulness, Jesus' power, the meaningfulness of praying for each other, the sacredness of marriage... But among all of these, what is most to be wondered at is God's generosity and the joy and abundant results that come from such generosity.
Faced with the Lord's selflessness and generosity is our response appreciation and praise or jealousy and indifference?
When we observe others' virtues, merits, good qualities and spiritual graces, do we appreciate the work of God? Do we match the grace of others and cooperate with each other to further glorify God and serve our neighbor? Can we have a little bit of John the Baptist's spirit and say, ‘'He must increase, I must decrease'? We put forth much effort and compete and that is good, but for whom and for what reason do we compete with each other?
Let us pray for this Church of such abundant grace and pray also for this world of such great variety, that all people ultimately may return to God, the source of the world and of life.