2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C – January 19/20, 2013
– First Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
– Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
– Gospel: John 2:1-11
In today’s gospel from John, we find ourselves present at the wedding feast at Cana. I want to highlight one particular aspect of this story. Jesus does nothing. He speaks. He directs. But all of the action, all of the doing, is done by others. The servants, in obedience to Mary’s words to “Do whatever he tells you”, take the action, fill the jars and bring them to the head waiter to taste.
Jesus directs. Mary encourages. And in obedience, the servants take the action that results in the transformation of the water into wine.
Now, let’s turn to our Epistle from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul’s letter is a response to a community being torn apart over a variety of issues. But the most divisive is the argument in the community about which of the spiritual gifts is more important.
Earlier this week I read an article written by Monsignor Charles Pope. Monsignor Pope articulates a problem we have in our Church today and that has vexed me most of my adult life. He says, “As a priest, one of my greater sorrows is the experience of the great divide that exists in the two “wings” of the Church. In one wing are those who engage the great moral struggles of our day related to abortion, the proper biblical understanding of human sexuality, marriage and family, and questions related to euthanasia. In the other wing, those who engage the great social and moral issues related to poverty, economic justice, solidarity, unity and mutual respect.”
Just like the Corinthians, these two wings of the Church often do not hold each other in mutual respect. There’s an overt bickering that takes place in different forms and these two wings spend time arguing over whose mission is more important. Monsignor Pope points out that, “The Church needs both wings to fly, to be credible, biblical and authentic …”
St. Paul’s response to the Corinthians is very similar, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” And later he adds, “But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
Paul’s message is that the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to everyone but that they all serve a purpose in responding to Jesus’ call to discipleship in the Body of Christ. The Corinthians were doing harm to the Body of Christ as they argued over whose gifts, whose mission was more important!
Monsignor Pope builds on Paul’s message, “Both wings, both battles are essential. They are really one battle for human dignity. The Church has an obligation to proclaim the Good News and Kingdom of God in all aspects. More than ever the poor, the needy, the unborn, our families, our youth and all who are vulnerable in any way need and deserve our Catholic unity.”
My brothers and sisters, the Catholic Church is a sleeping giant; a giant which has the potential to overcome the culture of death in which we are immersed. But it will only happen if we learn to respect and esteem both wings of the Church. Some are and will be called to defend life issues while others are and will be called to reach out and serve the poor and oppressed. We do harm to the un-born, the poor and the oppressed when we waste time arguing over which of these wings is more important.
I think Mother Teresa has the key for us to begin to address this problem. Mother Teresa integrated both wings into her own spirituality. She was an outspoken advocate for the sanctity of all human life, most especially the un-born while making her life’s mission to care for the dying in the streets of Calcutta.
We can’t all go out and do what Mother Teresa did. But we can adopt her spirituality. She understood that both wings are critical for the Church to fully respond to Jesus’ call to build his kingdom. We seek to develop and use our own spiritual gifts. But at the same time, we encourage and support all members of the Church to develop and use their own spiritual gifts because they are all essential!
Today we celebrate the Rite of Welcoming for five candidates, those who are already baptized but are now ready to continue their journey of formation. God willing, they will eventually enter into full Communion with the Catholic Church. We pray for and encourage these candidates to continue discovering and putting into practice their own unique gifts as the Lord directs them.
Monsignor Pope ends his article by saying, “The Church needs two wings to fly. Two wings: life and family, love for the poor and hunger for justice. Two wings to fly, but one heart that unites the love of God and neighbor.”
At the wedding feast, Jesus told the servants what to do and at Mary’s urging, they did it – and a miracle happened. Our Lord has given unique gifts to each of us. We are called to make use of these gifts to build the kingdom. Are our ears open, ready to listen; ready to respond to Jesus like those servants at the wedding feast? Let’s stop arguing with each other about whose gifts are more important and go out and fly with our two wings. If we can do this, let me tell you what can happen.
When we are open to our Lord’s direction in prayer; when we are open to the Lord’s direction in our worship here at Mass; when we are open to the Lord’s direction by accepting and living the teachings of the Church in all their beauty and fullness, we become all that God created us to be. If we do that, and then challenge and encourage all the members in our Church to do the same thing, to become all that God created them to be, with their unique gifts, then the sleeping giant will arise. The Church, with her two wings, will soar. Miracles will happen. The world will be transformed – because Jesus directed, Mary encouraged, and all of us, with our unique blend of gifts, did whatever he told us.