20Jan 20 January. 2nd Sunday (C)

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.

Responsorial Psalm — Ps 95:1-3, 7-10

R./: Proclaim his marvellous deeds to all the nations

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name. (R./)

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples. (R./)

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power,
give the Lord the glory of his name. (R./)

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness. (R./)

2nd 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 the servants, “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.


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 arise from the story. Did Mary know back in Nazareth that her son could work miracles and yet never once ask him to do one for the household, or grow their money to make ends meet? After all, 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.

A life-affirming church

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 leaving them really fulfilled.

Many people today do not find Church’s ministry life-giving. Liturgical celebration bores them. They need to see signs that are more friendly and life-affirming on the part of the Church in order to discover in Christianity Jesus’ own capacity to alleviate the suffering and the cruelties of life. Who wants to listen to something that does not seem to be joyful news, especially if the Gospel is preached with an authoritative and threatening tone? Jesus Christ came to provide a power to love and a reason to exist, a lifestyle to live sensitively and joyfully. If people today only know a theoretical religion and can’t taste something of the festive joy that was spread by Jesus, many will continue to stay away.

At the wedding feast, the water could be tasted as wine only when it was ‘drawn out’ that is, transferred from the 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. It has no living water, capable of purifying and satisfying our human needs. That religion needs to be freed by the love and the life that Jesus communicates. . In order to communicate the transforming power of Jesus, words alone are not enough; gestures of service are also needed. Evangelizing isn’t just talking, preaching or teaching; even less is it judging, threatening or condemning. We need to make our own the example and joyful style of Jesus himself. Our church today should be a place of joy and celebration, where people can feel welcomed, as at the wedding in Cana.

Eaglais a dhearbhaíonn an saol

Ag bainis Chána ní bhfuarthas blas fíona go dtí gur baineadh taoscán as na humair in a gcruinníodh na Giúdaigh uisce do searmanas na híonghlanta . Is fada uainn anois creideamh an dlí a scríobhadh ar leaca cloiche. Tá sé in eagmais an uisce bheo in a bhfuil beocht agus comhacht chun sinn a ionghlanadh, agus a bhronnann sástacht orainn. Ní mór do ghrá Chríost agus beatha an Tiarna dul i bhfeidhm  ar an gcreideamh dúr seo a thart orainn. Ní caint a chrothaíonn ach gníomh grod. Ní leo caint, seanmónta agus oideachas creidimh; nios tabhachaí fós ní ciontú daoine, caint bhagarthach ná cionntú cairde atá i gceist. Ní mór dúinn saol geal Chríost a tharraingt chugainn féin. Ionad gliondair agus ceiliúrtha agus fáilteach a ba chóir a bheith san eaglais seo inniu dála bainis Chána.
(Aistrithe ag an tAth. Uinseann, OCSO)


Saints Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs

Fabian, bishop of Rome, died as one of the first victims of the persecution under the emperor Decius in 250. In spite of being “a layman and a stranger” (Eusebius), he became bishop of Rome in 236. Reorganised the Church in Rome. Called by his contemporary, Saint Cyprian, “a man incomparable in the holiness of his life and the glory of his witness.”

Sebastian died perhaps in the late third century. Nothing of his life is known for certain. Tradition says he was a soldier who was martyred after sustaining other Christians in their trials. Venerated in Rome since the fourth century.


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