17Jan 17/01. Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: Like Mary and Jesus, we should help without being asked and without fuss or demand.

1st Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5

God has prepared joyful feast for his people

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The many gifts that come from God’s Spirit are meant for the good of all

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who aportions to each one individually as he wills.

Gospel: John 2:1-11

Mary’s intervention at the marriage at Cana evokes Christ’s first miracle

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now. Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

World Day of migrants and refugees.

17 Jan 2016 is nominated as World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Irish bishops conference has proposed a Parish Resource Pack for this occasion, which can be accessed here.


For Kieran O’Mahony’s exegetical notes on today’s Gospel, click here. For added commentary by José Antonio Pagola, click here.


The First Miracle, fruit of loving concern

In John’s gospel the mother of Jesus is mentioned just twice: at the marriage feast at Cana, the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus and at the crucifixion, the end of it. That could be a way of telling us that the role played by Mary was not just the fact of her being the mother of Jesus, but that she was actively involved with Jesus in the work of our redemption. We have read that at the marriage feast at Cana, Mary was invited as well as Jesus himself and his disciples. As the feasting went on and the wine ran short, Mary took the initiative to intercede with Jesus and he performed what turned out to be his first miracle, the first of his signs.

How did Mary know what her son could do? Other interesting questions could arise from the story. Did Mary know back in Nazareth that she was living with a person who could work miracles and yet never once ask him to multiply her bread, or double her money to make ends meet?  After all, one might think, charity begins at home. But for Mary and for Jesus the will of God came first.

Jesus somehow knew he had this power to enhance the lives of others. After his forty days fast in the dessert he was hungry and the devil suggested it to him to turn some stones into bread for his own use, but he did not do it. Yet he later multiplied bread for crowds of his hungry followers to eat. What does the Cana miracle tell us? Is it that God’s special gifts are not meant primarily for our personal benefit but for the service of others. That is what St Paul says when he lists examples of different gifts of the Holy Spirit  and adds that “to each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

What gifts has God given me? Am I using these gifts  for some service in the community?” We may wonder why there are no more manifestations of the Holy Spirit like what we read in the Bible. Maybe if we began better using the gifts we have for the common good – like the gift of praying, singing, teaching, caring, sharing, encouraging, supporting, motivating, writing, etc. – then  we might begin to see miracles. Concern for others is the basic miracle. We could make our own the famous prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

THE LANGUAGE OF GESTURES

John the Evangelist doesn’t say that Jesus did «miracles» or «marvels». He calls them «signs» because they are gestures that point toward something deeper than what our eyes can see. Concretely the signs that Jesus performs point to Jesus’ person and describe his saving power to us. What happened in Cana of Galilee is the beginning of all these signs. It is the prototype of those that Jesus will go about performing throughout his life. In that «changing of water into wine» we find the key to understand the type of saving transformation that Jesus works and that his followers must work in his name.

It all happens in the context of a wedding feast, the human party par excellence, the most expressive symbol of love, the best image of the biblical tradition to express the definitive communion of God with human beings. Jesus’ salvation must be lived and offered by his followers as a party that gives fullness to all human parties when these end up empty, «without wine» and without being able to fill our desire for complete happiness.

The story suggests something more. The water can only be tasted as wine when it’s «drawn out» –following Jesus’ command– of six large stone water jars used by the Jews for their purifications. The religion of the law that is written on stone tablets is worn out; there’s no water capable of purifying human beings. That religion needs to be freed by the love and the life that Jesus communicates. We can’t evangelize just any old way. In order to communicate the transforming power of Jesus, words aren’t enough: gestures are needed. Evangelizing isn’t just talking, preaching or teaching; even less is it judging, threatening or condemning. We need to bring about the signs that Jesus did with creative fidelity in order to interject the joy of a God who brings happiness to the hard life of those peasants.

Many of our contemporaries find themselves indifferent in the presence of the Church’s word. Our celebrations bore them. They need to see signs that are closer and more friendly on the part of the Church in order to discover in us Christians Jesus’ capacity to alleviate the suffering and the hardness of life. Who today wants to listen to something that no longer seems to be joyful news, especially if the Gospel gets invoked with an authoritative and threatening tone? Jesus Christ is awaited by many as a power and a reason to exist, and a path to live more sensitively and joyfully. If people only know a “watered-down religion” and can’t taste something of the festive joy that Jesus spreads, many will continue walking away. (José Antonio Pagola)

Good news: The genial Gospel scholar José Antonio Pagola (Bilbao) has kindly given me permission to include his Sunday commentaries as a regular feature here, in 2016. I feel sure that our regular readers will appreciate the freshness of Fr. Pagola’s insights. PR.

 


Scroll Up