16Jan 16 January 2022. Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

16 January 2022. 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 apportions 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.


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)

2 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Readings: 16 January, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time…

    Key Message:
    We fill water, Jesus changes it to wine. More water, more wine.

    Homily:

    The Takeaway from the First Reading:
    The first reading says that our God prepares different kinds of recipe for our joy!! God has not only created different varieties of trees, plants, animals, birds, fishes and flowers but His mind is also set on blessing us with different kinds of joy. The different recipes are mentioned in today’s first reading.
    If we have sickness or sins then we are the persons God is looking for, to heal and comfort. Our dear Lord Jesus says in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    All we need to do is to trust God that our vindication is on the way!! We should not be willing to see the people who cause us sorrows to be unhappy. Naturally, we may feel that the people who have caused us to suffer also should suffer. But that is not God’s policy. God’s policy is that we should throw others’ sins behind our back, like how God throws our sins behind His back.
    When we forgive our enemies then God will make our vindication shine out like the dawn, and our salvation like a burning torch, and all the people around us will see our glory. We should never consider vindication by our hands, nor continue to hate our problem creators in our hearts. Our anger and hatred towards them will block our blessings. We can surrender our sufferings to our Lord on the cross for the salvation of our ‘problem creators’ and bless them peacefully. Christ will then raise us up in front of our problem creators as described in the first reading.

    The brighter we shine during the storm, the brighter the sun shines after the storm.
    God will balance our days between the sunshine and the storm!!

    The Takeaway from the Second Reading:
    Acts 10:38 says, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit ..”. When our Lord Jesus Christ required the anointing of the Holy Spirit, how much more should we require the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Without fail, every day we should pray for more and more infilling of the Holy Spirit.
    Let us ask God our Father for an increase in our anointing.

    The Takeaway from the Gospel Reading:

    Our Mamma Mary is our teacher in today’s Gospel reading. As a teacher and a mother, she encourages us to do whatever our Lord and Brother Jesus tells us to do.

    The word “whatever” is really interesting.
    “Whatever” means “Doing the Will of God in all circumstances”:
    • without questioning when we do not understand what is exactly happening in our life;
    • Doing the challenging stuff till the end.
    The servants filled water to the brim without understanding anything, but according to Mamma Mary’s instructions. Mamma Mary also had such situations in Her own life. Starting from Her divine Motherhood to standing at the foot of the cross, nothing was going in the usual world’s norm. God’s chosen people usually have a different way of life. They will not understand what is going on in their life, but they can understand that God always takes care and nothing happens to them without His knowledge.
    Are we filling water to the brim in our water jars? Are we doing all that God is asking us to do, to the dot? We start doing according to God’s word, but when it’s challenging, we may give up. We miss so many beautiful blessings when we do not persevere fully in the good things we start. Jesus would have been wanting to bless us to the brim, but since we would have left in the middle, only half of the water will be there for Jesus to change into wine.
    Let us follow our Mamma Mary’s words “Doing whatever He tells us”.

    Tips to do the Takeaways:

    1. Not complaining, not taking chances:
    The servants followed our Mamma Mary’s words sincerely. Since they were not aware of the miracle yet to happen, they could have easily filled up the jars only to the middle. They would have been working for the preparation of the celebrations and since a large number of people already had food, they would have been serving them also. Finally, when they got tired, they got this new instruction. There were enough valid reasons for them to complain that they were to fill to the brim, when they could fill only half of the jar. If they had filled only half the jar, Jesus would have been able to convert only half of the jar to wine, which would have been enough for serving the guests alone and nothing left for the servants to drink. They walked according to God’s word wholeheartedly and enjoyed the wine. Our Lord Jesus always prepares a wholesome meal for us to enjoy when we do God’s word. Jesus even cooked a fish meal and kept it ready to the delight of the tired disciples.

    2. Doing when it is the right time:
    If the servants had not filled to the brim, when they were asked to do, they would have regretted it later. They would have missed tasting the best wine. So, better to do our best, whatever may be the challenge, when time is ours.

    3. Missing to enjoy the rainbows, by recalling the past storms:
    God promises joy after our suffering always. In God’s law, after a storm, there is a rainbow always. We do not realize it very often. In the rainbow season, we make the mistake of remembering how difficult the storm was to endure and forget to enjoy the beauty of the rainbow.
    Let us understand more with a short story. Laura was taking care of her elderly mother who was 75 years old. Laura’s mother fell in the bathroom and had a swollen wound in her head. Laura got tense and took her mother to the hospital and all the related tests were taken. Finally, the doctors declared that Laura’s mother was fine and no further treatment was needed. Laura was relieved but after coming home she started repeating to everyone in the family and kept recalling to herself the tension she had to undergo in the hospital. Here she was not able to enjoy herself and soak in the calm after the storm. She said thanks to God for a minute but kept recalling the tense moments. God said to her, “Why do you keep recalling in your mind the difficulties you have endured in the hospital? Enjoy the great calm you are enduring now”.
    Are we behaving like Laura missing to enjoy the rainbow by recalling the past storms in our lives?

    4. Not recalling others past life:
    When people turn away from their wicked past into righteousness, then we should also forget their past sins. God will not be satisfied when we recall the past sins of others even in our minds. It will be difficult to avoid remembering other’s past sins. We should recall that we will be making God so happy when we do not recall others’ past sins.

    5. God’s blessings are on the way!! If we are called a ‘forgotten vessel’, we will be called a ‘glorified vessel’ or ‘vessel of delight’. If people accuse us falsely now, then God will build a throne for us. If we feel disheartened then let us repeatedly read today’s first reading again and again till our mind is able to fathom the glorious days God our Father has in store for us. Let us fill our minds by recalling God’s past blessings and promises in the Bible for our future. We will not yield to self-pity and will have the peace of God all the days of our lives.

    If we do a small thing on our own, life will be difficult. But along with God, even big things can be achieved easily.

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Readings: 16 January, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time…

    The wedding feast at Cana continues the Epiphany, as the Johannine Jesus manifests his Glory. How? By providing lavish wine at a wedding. Wine is the drink of the god Dionysus, whose cult was practised at Sepphoris near Cana. The story tells us that Jesus is just as much a god of life as Dionysus, and more. It is a luxury miracle, not a response to deep need like the healing of the man paralyzed for 38 years in John 5, or the healing of the blind man in John 9, or the raising of Lazarus in John 11. As such it underlines even more strikingly that he comes ‘that they may have life and have it in abundance’ (Jn 10:10).

    Some dislike the Platonic allegorism (coming to John from Philo of Alexandria) wherein bread signifies bread from heaven (Jn 6:33), water signifies water springing up to eternal life (Jn 4:14), wine signifies the new wine of the Christian revelation, fulfilling the old covenant represented by the ‘six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification’ (Jn 2:6). But there is always a concrete edge and a contemplative depth to John’s stories that take us beyond allegorism. The eternal life to which they point is not in some never-never land but abundantly present here and now.

    Today’s story in particular has a number of moments conducing to wonder. The presence of Mary (who does not reappear until Jn 19, at the foot of the cross) bathes the entire scene in a special glow. If Jesus appears as the true Dionysus, she appears as the true mother-goddess or Isis. The Gospel did not wait for smart-alecky comparative mythologists to point this out: it is already inscribed in the text. The wonder of pagan mysteries is both elevated to an epiphany of divine glory and brought down to earth, in a thoroughly incarnational way, in the delicious humour of the scene: ‘When the steward tasted the water that had become wine…’; ‘You have kept the best wine till now.’

    Paolo Veronese devoted one of his most sumptuous canvases, exploding with life in a plurality of styles, to this scene: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/wedding-feast-at-cana.htm He depicted the Last Supper with similar magnificence (though that painting was renamed Feast at the House of Levi to satisfy censors, and in fact it is a more suitable title): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Feast_in_the_House_of_Levi All the meals of Jesus are rich and joyful feasts, which continue in our liturgies. The irrepressible creativity of Paulo Veronese will be scoffed at by Puritans as something merely worldly. But Jesus, scoffed at as a winebibber, was not a life-denying Puritan. The austerity of his Gospel is that of the path that leads to life (as throughout Jewish tradition) and those who step on that path are full of joy. ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion’ (Ps 84:5).

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