Sunday, January 28, 2007

marriage at Cana

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
C cycle

Reading 1. Isaiah 62: 1-5
Reading II. I Corinthians 12: 4-11
Gospel. John 2: 1-11 (Wedding at Cana in Galilee)

In today's first reading Isaiah speaks of a time when Jerusalem or Zion will no longer be called forsaken or desolate. Whenever we hear the words Jerusalem or Zion we should know that they refer to the whole people of God both then and now. So when the prophet says,

As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall you God rejoice in you,

he is talking about the restoration of ourselves to God through the work of the Lord.

In this second Sunday in Ordinary time we have in the marriage feast at Cana, a third epiphany of the Lord. Last week we had the great feast of the Epiphany itself where the new born Lord appears to the world in the visit of the Magi. Then we saw a second epiphany at the Baptism of the Lord. "Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'"

For most of Cycle C, the gospel reading will be taken from St. Luke's gospel but for this Sunday the Church chooses to recall the first of the signs or miracles that Jesus worked, the changing of the water into wine at the wedding at Cana. In all the gospels is there a more famous or well known story than this one? St. John notes that the mother of Jesus was at the wedding and that Jesus and his disciples were also invited. Then as the wine ran short at the feast, Mary utters her only words recorded in the Gospel other than those at her Annunciation and Visitation. She tells her Son, "They have no wine." He hesitates, "Woman, how does your concern affect me?" Nevertheless, she says to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

In most of the miracles of Jesus someone approaches him with the belief that he can help them or someone they love. In this case it's his own Mother who seeks his help for the young married couple. He proceeds to turn six huge jars of water into wine. Someone once said that the same God that sends the rain that waters the vines that nourish the grapes that produce the wine merely sped up the process at Cana. John concludes that this first miracle was also an epiphany or appearance of the Lord.

"Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him."
First, it was the Magi who came to believe in Him, then it was John the Baptist, and now it's his disciples. What are they to believe? That He is the One come to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy. This is a central theme in St. John's gospel, that God has sent His Son into the world to heal its wounds, to make all things new, and to the restore the relationship or marriage between God and His people.

By now most of us even if we have not read the books or seen the movies must be aware of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, the Lord of the Rings. In that great masterpiece there is also a kingdom that is desolate, forsaken, and on its last legs. Against incredibly powerful and evil enemies a fellowship is formed to restore the kingdom. Although they appear to be weak, each of the members of the fellowship will discover on their journey that they each have strengths or gifts that are needed if the fellowship is to succeed.

At first they are even unaware of their own gifts or strengths. They even distrust or deprecate the gifts of the others. Dwarves don't like elves, and vice versa. The hobbits, half the size of men, are regarded as useless in the quest. They themselves would prefer to just remain in their comfortable homes or hobbit holes and avoid dangerous adventures. Yet in the end each one's gifts will be necessary in the struggle to restore the Kingdom.

Isn't this what St. Paul is saying to us today in today's second reading.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.
there are different forms of service but the same Lord
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.

We err when we think that our gifts are better than someone else's. We also err when we think that our gifts are our own doing and not gifts from God at all. Who will remember the athlete celebrating his own triumph or lording it over a defeated rival? Who will ever forget the picture of the football player falling to his knees and making the sign of the Cross after catching the winning pass even though the TV cameras quickly moved away?

However, we also err when we undervalue our gifts or when we fail to even recognize that we have them, or when we refuse to use them--what our Lord called hiding your light under a bushel. Worse is when we envy the gifts of others and wish that they had been given to us.

If we haven't made our New Year's resolutions already, we still have time to go back to our comfortable hobbit holes and take stock of what the Lord has given us, what strengths or weapons we have as we set out to do our part in restoring the Kingdom. Scripture is the word of God and when St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians he speaks to us.

"To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit."

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