The Ensemble Is Greater

If we were to consider a single bloom, we would think little of it; after all, there are more fragrant and beautiful flowers. But when we have a plethora of them before our eyes, we forget their apparent insignificance.

Dear reader, allow me to pass on something that recently caught my attention. While I was praying the Rosary, walking through the grounds of my community, I came across a beautiful flowering shrub. It was a hibiscus, known scientifically by the name Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which evokes a special aspect of God: the splendour of harmony.

In nature we find a countless variety of flowers, of the most diverse colours, forms, sizes and scents… Each one has its own particular charm, and despite the great differences in their characteristics, they complement and harmonize with one another perfectly.

While some attract by their uniqueness and distinction, like the orchid, or by their conspicuous presence, like the sunflower, or perhaps by their delicacy, like the lily, the hibiscus, on the other hand, reveals all its charm in its simplicity.

Seen on its own, this flower undoubtedly has its beauty: the gradation of hue and the shape of the petals are proportionate and delicate. However, when we come upon a bush full of hibiscuses of varying tones and sizes, their pulchritude takes on a special grace, which lies precisely in this entirely harmonious variety.

The gracefulness of the hibiscus shrub increases with the number of flowers it displays. It would seem that the Divine Craftsman wanted the “mission” of this simple bloom to be completely fulfilled only in union with its “sisters”. Although it does not possess the exuberance of other species, it demonstrates the principle that the beauty of the whole is greater than that of each individual part. In fact, that which in the universe seems insignificant often acquires value if considered in terms of the totality of creation.

This analysis led me to deeper considerations, which I wish to share with you.

God imprinted all created beings with a reflection of His infinite perfections, but He did so within a hierarchy, so that some receive more than others, whether in the aesthetic, intellectual or practical field. Because of this, the tendency may arise within us hold certain creatures in disdain, simply because there are others more interesting and useful…

Now, we read in Sacred Scripture that at each stage of creation, the Lord considered what He had accomplished and “saw that it was good” (Gn 1:10), yet on the sixth day He “saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gn 1:31). In other words, each being analysed individually was good, but the whole was excellent.

In the case of the hibiscus flower, we might think it of little value it if we were to consider it alone; after all, there are lovelier and more fragrant and blooms. Observing a single specimen, we would even find some defects in it: one petal that was somewhat wilted, another flawed, a third that had been damaged by some insect… However, when we have a plethora of them before our eyes, we forget their limitations.

Here is the conclusion drawn from that unexpected reflection in the garden: we all certainly have our weaknesses and shortcomings, just as it is clear that some persons are superior to others. However, we must not attend only to each individual, but should live in view of the whole.

“Hibiscus rosa-sinensis” in varied colours

To what whole am I referring? To the Holy Catholic Church; to which all the baptized belong.

In our day-to-day dealings with the children of this most august Mother, we should seek to see in others the vocation to sanctity and the sublime aspects of this sacred institution that they reflect, not from an isolated point of view, but always from within a panoramic perspective that allows us to appreciate the vast horizons of our Faith.

Let us then make the resolution to understand that over each person hovers a calling of incomparably greater weight than any weaknesses he may have; and let us never fix our gaze on secondary aspects but rather on the grandeur of our Religion, acknowledging that we are all invited to be Saints, and Saints who will mark history. 

 

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