From the Pastor’s Desk

SUNDAY REFLECTIONS

SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR - 16 JANUARY, 2022

 

My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ

Love and Peace!

Introduction

This is a season of “epiphanies,” in which the Liturgy shows us God’s revelation of Jesus as the Messiah to the shepherds, the Magi, King Herod, John the Baptist, and those gathered around John at the Jordan. This week we are at a wedding where Jesus reveals Divine power by turning water into wine. Pope St. John Paul II gave us a beautiful gift when he introduced the Luminous Mysteries into the Rosary. The second “ephiphany” is the subject of today’s Gospel, the Wedding. In John’ s Gospel, the miracle at Cana is the first of seven “signs” – miraculous events by which Jesus showed forth Divinity.

 

Marriage as a Symbol – the Biblical Perspective

The Bible begins with one wedding, that of Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gn 2:23-24), and ends with another, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rv 19:9, 21:9, 22:17). Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His Chosen People. God is the Bridegroom and humanity is His beloved Bride (see II Cor 11:2). We see this beautifully reflected in today’s first reading, where Isaiah uses the metaphor of spousal love to describe God’s love for Israel. God’s fidelity to His people is compared to a husband’s ideal fidelity to his wife. The prophet reminds God’s people that their God rejoices in them as a Bridegroom rejoices in His Bride, and that He will rebuild Israel, if they will be reconciled to Him, repairing their strained relationship with Him. By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her Bridegroom.

Gifts Given to the Bride                  

 

In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the new wine that Christ pours out for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to Christ’s Bride.

 

The spiritual gifts, also called charisms are given to each of us at baptism as a means by which we can participate in building the Kingdom of God here on earth. They are unique graces given to us so that we can be instruments of God’s provision for others. The scriptures talk about 24 charisms in particular, some of which are enumerated in this reading: service, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, etc.

 

Our Church teaches us that the charisms must be discerned. Since the Holy Spirit “produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes”, each person must take the time to see how the Lord has gifted them so that they may understand how God calls them into mission. We also need to pay attention to the evidence of the charisms at work. Do I experience a sense of joy and personal fulfillment. Do I notice that I am particularly effective when undertaking work that involves the use of the charisms? Do others tend to notice when I am using my charisms or do people approach me habitually to undertake projects that involve the use of my charisms? These are all signs that the Holy Spirit is at work through my charisms.

 

Jesus’ first sign at Cana and Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, taken together, challenge us to become more sensitive to the many signs of God’s power and glory around us, to open our eyes and hearts to perceive them as coming from God, and to give glory to God for them.

 

The Gospel Context

Mary, Jesus, and the apostles, were guests at the wedding feast. When the wine “ran short,” Jesus’ mother told Jesus about it. At first Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything about it. But later Jesus told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water and take some to the headwaiter. When they did so, the water had become wine, better wine than that which had run out.

Marriage and Feast as Metaphors

Marriage and wedding feasts are metaphors used in Scripture to describe God's salvation and the Kingdom of God. Here at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, John's Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-interpret and fulfill Yahweh's promise to Israel. Jesus establishes the New Covenant. A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in the deed that Jesus performs. Asked to do something to address the awkward situation that the absence of wine at a wedding feast would create, Jesus' miracle produces vast quantities of wine-six jars holding thirty gallons each are filled to overflowing with choice wine.

 

This lavish response to a simple human need is a vision for us of the abundance of God's kingdom. It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with human need today. We respond as best we can, fully confident that God can transform our efforts, bringing the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us.

 

 

The Language of Signs

 

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.

We are told the wedding feast at Cana was the first of those signs. A sign that people should have seen was that Jesus was a human being who never compromised with a lack of humanity, hypocrisy, or falsehood. People should have seen the virtue of his words and actions, that these meant he came from God, and not any trick he could perform. But they didn’t. They had the good wine all along but didn’t appreciate it.

 

Water to be drawn out

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.

                 

Creative Signs Needed

 

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.

 

Messages for Life

1) We need to “invite Jesus and Mary to remain with us in our homes.” St. John Mary Vianney suggests this as the solution for many of our family problems. He used to encourage parents to create an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, mutual love, mutual respect, and sacrificial service at home, so that the presence of Jesus and Mary might be perpetually enhanced and experienced in the family.

 

2) We need to obey the only command of Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.” This is the only recorded command of Mary in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives.

 

3) We need to learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives, protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us, and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit.

 

4) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, we need to fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern and care.

 

5) We need to appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar. The same Jesus, Who transformed water into wine at Cana, transforms our gifts of bread and wine into Jesus’ own Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine, in order to give us spiritual nourishment. If our families have lost the savor of mutual love, let us renew them at the altar with the invigorating power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Conclusion

Here, as elsewhere in John's Gospel, Mary is not mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as the mother of Jesus. Mary is influential in Jesus' first sign. She will also be present at his Crucifixion, a witness to the final manifestation of his divinity. God wants us to enjoy living our human lives. Indeed, God wants to bring our humanity to its fulfilment. God wants us to have a good, fulfilled life rather than an ordinary life. God wants us to have good wine rather than ordinary wine. That good life is found in Jesus. Jesus is the good wine.

 

AMEN

 

STAY SAFE! STAY BLESSED!

 

Fr. Xavier Kannickairaj

Pastor