Flourishing as a community

Each and every one of us has abilities and talents which are unique to us. We do not have any duplicates - we are each made different and unique, and special, in the image of God.

Jan 14, 2022

Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (C)
Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5;
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11;
Gospel: John 2: 1-11

Each and every one of us has abilities and talents which are unique to us. We do not have any duplicates - we are each made different and unique, and special, in the image of God.

As St Paul tells us in the second reading: “There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people; it is the same God who is working in all of them.

The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.”

This means that, no matter how much or how little talent we have, all these talents are meant for us to glorify God and to help the Church grow and flourish, not to be kept to ourselves.

But the question is: Do we see a variety of gifts manifested in different ways in our parish? Do we see God’s spirit working in our parish through the many people who volunteer for ministry? Are you using your gift for the service of the community and the Church?

God has given each and every one of us many kinds of gifts, talents and abilities to help the Church and the Christian community grow and mature. The issue is, we sometimes fail God and the community, especially when we do not acknowledge our gifts and the gifts of others in the community. A community can only flourish if its members are able to recognise their own gifts, and affirm the gifts of others.

A community is in danger of disintegrating when its members are always only expecting something from others but are not prepared to give or share, making excuses to avoid getting involved; when its members are constantly criticising, belittling and finding fault with one another, even for the smallest reason; when the gifts of its members are ignored or even suppressed, rather than identified, nurtured and encouraged; and figuratively speaking, when the wine runs out.

In today's gospel, we are reminded of the story of the wedding at Cana. This joyous occasion nearly ended in disaster because they had run out of wine. Sometimes in our churches, we see the same people serving in the parish year in year out, without any successor, any change or new blood. We begin to think that the wine is also running out as there seems to be no new leaders and no new members.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites also thought that the destruction of their country meant the end of everything. But such thinking is wrong, since Isaiah, in the first reading, gives a message of hope, where we are reminded: “The nations then will see your integrity, all the kings your glory, and you will be called by a new name, one which the mouth of the Lord will confer. You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord, a princely diadem in the hand of your God; no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’, nor your land ‘Abandoned’, but you shall be called ‘My Delight’ and your land ‘The Wedded’; for the Lord takes delight in you, and your land will have its wedding.” All is not lost because God will redeem them. This led the Israelites to realise that glory and blessings come from God alone. Only God can ensure that the wine will never run out.

So, what do we need to do? We should realise that our Christian community still has plenty of opportunities and chances to grow and become stronger. We must recognise that we need a conversion of heart and a change of attitude. We need to put God back into the centre of our lives. If we have become complacent and satisfied with what we have, it’s time to wake up and buck up. It’s not enough to maintain the things that we have or remain as status quo or adhere to an “it’s always been that way” attitude.

The community and the Church must grow, and we must encourage, guide and nurture new leaders and new members to eventually take over after a certain period; otherwise our community will eventually wither and die.

Let us pray that our community will be renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit and that we will recognise our gifts and the gifts of others, and how we can best use these gifts to serve the Church for the greater glory of God.

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