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Contents: Volume 2 - 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - C -

 

 

  2nd

SUNDAY

(C)

January 16, 2022

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. -- (Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 2 C 2022

Our readings this week tell us some of the extraordinary ways in which God cares for us. In the first reading from the Book of Isaiah, we hear how God never mentions but rather kindly overlooks the repeated failings of the Israelites. Instead, we hear/read about love and praise and hope for them and their homeland, Jerusalem. God rejoices in offering yet another opportunity to respond positively to these lavish sentiments and words... to them and to us.

More of God's goodness is revealed in the selection from the Letter to the Corinthians. Here we find a rather impressive listing of spiritual gifts, forms of service, and workings of the Lord. What is so very amazing is the over-abundance, that "all of them" are produced by the Holy Spirit "in everyone"... and that means everyone, you and me, and the people we love and even those we don't like or know!

Then there is the familiar Gospel story according to John of Jesus's first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus may not have thought his "hour had come yet", but apparently a nudge from Mother Mary started the process rather surprisingly and, again, the results were much more than expected. For me, the quantity and the quality of the water transformed into wine is yet another of God's lavish gifts. During Mass, ordinary wine is mixed with water and then transformed into Jesus's Blood. This is the same Blood that Jesus poured out for us, covering the sins of the world, the Blood that is our salvation.

It is incomprehensible to me that God loves is so unconditional, but it is so. How will each of us respond to this immeasurable love? Will our actions also produce abundance for others if we "do whatever he (Jesus) tells you"?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday in Ordered Time January 16, 2022

Isaiah 62:1-5; Responsorial Psalm 96; 1st Corinthians 12:4-11; Gospel Acclamation 2nd Thessalonians 2:14; John 2:1-11

We have just got to know when we have the gospel reading from the Gospel of John that there is something very special about the liturgy of the Word. Not only that, but we also have a reading from the third part of the prophet Isaiah. That third segment is the triumphal part of Isaiah. The first segment is about the threat from empires against Judah. The second segment is about the suffering servant and is set in the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Those were dark and despairing times. The third segment is about a return home and the restoration of the nation. The second reading is from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians which insists that each member of the Body of Christ has a place, has a talent and or a skill that adds to the welfare, growth, and spirituality of the Community. And those gifts, talents, and skills derive from the Spirit who gives to each as the Spirit wills, truly gifts.

Let us begin with the Gospel. In all of John’s gospel there are many facets. There is an historical reference to culture, ritual, and historical law. There is also in the same breath a reference to a timeless element of culture, ritual, and spirituality. There is a heavy dependence on Jewish life while at the same time there is reference to myth, culture, and ritual of the pagan Greeks. John, after all, wrote his gospel for the Jews but oddly enough it is written in Greek.

The story of Jesus and his ministry is geographic but yet applicable globally. It is fixed in time, yet his reference in the first chapters is to the timeless and most ancient of creation stories. The story this Sunday of the wedding feast at Cana starts with the phrase the "third day" in the beginning of this chapter. But counting the days in this first chapter of John, this wedding day is in fact the seventh day. We should understand this as John insisting there is a new creation. Keeping this in mind, the entire story of Cana takes on a significance that makes of water something more than H2O.

Another thought to think when reading John’s gospel is that he takes very ordinary and common events and locations and makes them very special by the presence of Jesus. Thus, Cana is a poke and plumb town – that is the town is so small that you poke you head in, and you are plumb out of it. The wedding is an eight-day celebration, again a common practice of Jewish culture. Wine is essential to such celebrations. This, however, would be no drunken brawl. Wine was mixed with water. A drunken brawl at a wedding would ruin the joy of groom and bride as well as honor and integrity of the in-laws.

The roads in Galilee were not piked or paved with stone. Walking on those roads in sandals that only protected the soles of one’s feet would cause those feet to become dirty with dust or with the leavings of animals. So, washing them would be expected before entering a home or party venue. In addition, the laws and rituals of the Jews required hand washing before the meal, between courses of the meal, and after the meal. There needed to be adequate water available for those washings. There was not much in the way of soap or lotion commonly used for this. Water was stored near the entrance so that it was handy to those entering. Those jars were huge and would hold between 20 to 30 gallons each. There were six such jars at the wedding. Apparently, these jars were empty. That is key to the story – otherwise it could be surmised there was already wine in them. But no, they were empty since Jesus instructed the servants to fill them --- to the brim. To the brim so there could be nothing added to the water after the jars were filled.

The story portrays Mary as a person who watched over the celebration. Just as women in our Church weddings arrange the bride’s room, attend to the bride and her attendants seeing to it that all is prepared, and that processions and seating are completed with honor for guests and in an orderly fashion. So also, Mary seems to have been in charge of these details. She notices – at some point in the eight-day celebration – that the wine has been used up. What an embarrassment to the couple: to begin their married life in such an inauspicious matter would have marred the hope for a fruitful and exemplary marriage. You can hear the gossip: "Yeah, even at their wedding they were unprepared. They ran out of wine so early. What were they thinking?" There are some who insist that Jesus brought his first few disciples with him and that caused the wine to be used up. Jesus was invited and by the time of this story he had already chosen Andrew, another unnamed disciple, Simon renamed Peter, Philip, and Nathaniel. John presents Mary as the mother of Jesus; but more than that. She is symbolic of the Chosen People, the nation favored by God. As Mary bore Jesus so also the nation bears the Messiah, this Jesus of Nazareth. It is that continual experience of God as the "one who is with you" that brings the consciousness and desire of humanity to longing for the Messiah.

There is a reference to the third day at the beginning of this story. That reference ties in with the burial of Jesus which is culminated with the Resurrection. This is a reference to Jesus as the Messiah, the long awaited one. When Jesus tells Mary, "My time has not yet come," this is a reference to the crucifixion, death and burial, and resurrection on the third day. The time has not yet come refers to the full manifestation of Jesus as the Son of Man of ancient myth and prophecy. John ends this event, this story at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as the first manifestation of his glory – that is his presence as the Lamb of God promised by Isaiah. The word John uses to express "lamb" is also the word used to express "servant." Thus, Jesus is the suffering servant of the second segment of the prophet Isaiah.

Great story, this! But what does it mean for us in the twenty first century when we are so beleaguered by division, by violence, by hatred, by distrust of authority, and denial of God’s presence? In our time, there is such distrust in authority, in history, in science, and in government. We desperately need to rediscover a solid foundation for human living that is based on truth and faith. Faith – that characteristic that we often think of as being commitment. Faith that we often take to mean trust in God. Faith, however, is more than either of these, though faith affects both commitment and trust. Faith, as St. Paul insists, is a gift given to the heart. That means that we are moved by love to what is good and healthy for our spirits and our bodies. But we digress!

John, through out his gospel, insists that God is present in the little things. We should not need apparitions or visions or dreams to discover God in our midst. God is present in the tiny towns like Cana. God is present in the faith, rituals, and culture of the Chosen People. God is present where commitments are made to one another as in marriage. God is present at our parties where we celebrate life. God names God-self in Moses’ burning bush as "I am who stays actively and continually present to you in all that you enjoy, endure, suffer, achieve, and all your living." In the Hebrew scriptures which catalogue that continual presence, the people responded by adherence to the Law of Moses. The water jars for washing away dirt and grim and for refreshment in life are containers of that experience and its meaning. There are six such jars at this wedding. In the Hebrew way of thinking six is an incomplete number, not quite that fullest of numbers which is seven. That which is incomplete is water, refreshing, cleansing, giving life to barrenness. John understands Jesus as the one who cleanses not only the body but enlivens the spirit of humanity by the Spirit. Life is more than commitment and celebration. There is a newness in this presence of the Spirit within each of us. The concerns and priorities of the world take on new meaning and purpose. Just as wine is said to lift up flagging spirits, so the present of the Spirit coming by the Messiah lifts us up and enlivens and signals meaning and purpose in everyday living, working, and relationships.

In this context the Isaiah reading asks us to look beyond the moments of a day to the presence of God bringing us back to the glory of our home which is the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul writing to the Thessalonians points out that each member of the assembly is endowed by the Spirit with gifts that are to be for the assembly and its work. That is certainly an argument why Sunday worship within the Assembly gathered is so critical. We must come to the Word to learn, to commit, and to be lifted up from thinking the ordinary is ordinary and without meaning and purpose for our spirits – some would say, "our souls." It is in the offertory that we place, at least symbolically, on the altar of sacrifice our triumphs, our achievements, our joys, our endurances, our sorrows – well, all the moments of our living. That Spirit symbolized in the water changed to wonderful wine in John’s story this Sunday, transforms our ordinary moments into the extraordinary Body and Blood of the Messiah, the Christ. Let us drink deeply of that wine and eat heartily of that bread. For it makes us one with all in the assembly and lifts us from the secular, the mundane, the routine and brings us together as the Risen Body of Jesus. Jesus became the anointed one - the Christ - at his Resurrection. And that Resurrection is the birth of the Kingdom of God for us.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkellere002@nc.rr.com

 

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THE WEDDING AT CANA: 2ND SUNDAY C

Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

Children are still learning nursery rhymes like Baa Baa Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, Ring a Ring of Roses, Oranges and Lemons, and Mary. Mary, Quite Contrary. But what they originally meant is different from what they seem to mean today. They were symbols and code language for what people were there and then experiencing. So too St John’s story of Jesus changing water into wine at a wedding, is brim-full of symbolic meanings, meanings beyond the bare facts. Its overall meaning is summed up in the last sentence of the story: ‘This was the first of the signs given by Jesus ... He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him’ (v.11). Having been shown as Son of God and Saviour of the world to the wise men at Bethlehem, and to his own people at his baptism, now on this third occasion, his greatness is displayed to his first followers, right there at Cana in Galilee.

In telling the story, we need to include John’s first four words of introduction: ‘ON THE THIRD DAY, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.’ In the Bible big things, great things happen on the third day, and above all the resurrection of Jesus. At the beginning of his gospel, then, John is anticipating its climax.

John’s next words ‘THERE WAS A WEDDING’ stir up rich associations. In both Judaism and early Christianity, a wedding was a rich metaphor to speak of the love-match, the union between God and the people of Israel (as stressed in our First Reading today). The words highlight the union between God and an individual, and the union between Jesus and the Church community as his bride. To this day religious Sisters wear a silver ring to show their spiritual marriage to Jesus their bridegroom - the biggest love of their lives.

Moreover, in the community life of peasants at the time of Jesus, weddings were an exciting break, a reprieve from what has been labelled ‘the terrible every day.’ Life was tough for peasants, and their daily diet was basic and meagre. It seldom included meat or poultry, which required killing one of their few animals. But a wedding worked like magic. It brought some rest for a whole week from hard relentless labour, and enjoyment of abundant amounts of food and drink, along with music and dancing. These associations help us identify the point John is implying. The whole activity of Jesus is a wedding, a wedding at which the wine never runs out, and at which the best wine is kept till last. Moreover, wherever Jesus goes, including so often to meals, the joy breaks out. He’s experienced as the source of ‘good news’ - the good news of God’s lavish, gracious, and everlasting love. His presence, then, is a cause of joy. On this occasion, the production by Jesus of so much new wine (no less than 120 gallons) of outstanding quality represents the abundance of God’s gifts, which the prophets promised would accompany the arrival of the Messiah, the Saviour (cf. Amos 9:13; Hosea 2:24; Joel 3:18; Is 25:6).

It’s significant too, that at this manifestation of his glory and greatness, ‘the mother of Jesus was there’ (v.1.), just as she will be there again at the cross (Jn 19:25). In John’s understanding, Jesus is glorified on that cross, and the marriage of God and God’s people is revived. In both places, on both occasions, Mary is the new Eve, the woman described in the Book of Genesis as ‘the mother of all that live’ (3:20). Here at Cana, when ‘the wine provided for the wedding was all finished’ (v.3) she feels a mother’s compassion for the embarrassed bride and groom. Even when her son is slow to act, Mary’s strong faith and trust do not waver that he can and will fix things. So, she says quietly to the waiters: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (v.5).

In telling us his story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee, what’s the main point that John our storyteller is making? I suggest that if and when we accept the invitation of Jesus to let him become our friend, our best friend who is always at our side, our life changes. It’s like water being turned into wine. Without Jesus life tends to be dull, stale, flat, and insipid – never fulfilled. But with Jesus life becomes colourful, sparkling, and exciting, and even an exhilarating adventure. That’s what St Paul keeps experiencing, even in situations of difficulty, opposition, and struggle. ‘The life I now live in the flesh,’ he insists, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20).

Australian Jesuit theologian, Gerald O’Collins, has written about friendship with Jesus in a particularly eloquent and appealing way. Let his words will round out our reflection:

The truth is that we all have hungry hearts. We want to escape from all that is deadly, and find a life that is fuller and more satisfying. My faith and my personal experience tell me where to look. Look for Jesus. Welcome Jesus and you will be welcoming someone who gives us real life, the fullness of life. He is the Life-giver, the supreme Life-giver. …If we open our arms to Jesus and let him into our little world, we will live life, the only life that truly fills our hearts and will continue forever. Modern advertising can offer products that provide passing relief for our hungry hearts, and make life for a time a little bit sweeter and richer. But those products can never fully satisfy our hungry hearts. Only Jesus can do that. …Real life does not come by taking it for ourselves, but by receiving it from Jesus and sharing it with others. Only Jesus is the supreme Life-giver, the utterly satisfying Life-giver, who offers us life, now and forever. So, live life! Welcome Jesus! (Jesus: A Portrait, p.75).

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

"You have kept the best wine till now."

Happy New Year! - I think it’s still not too late to hope!

So, actually, how exactly do you turn water into wine?

Just about this time a year ago, I was asked that question by a small boy at the back of a church a little way from here. He obviously felt that, being a priest, and having just preached on the topic I was supposed to know about these things.

Playing for time, I asked him why he wanted to know and he said that he wanted to know because he wanted to be able to do it himself.

‘Oh’, I said – "and why is that?"

Well, after a little discussion, we discovered that he had been giving this matter really quite a lot of thought. And it wasn’t just that he thought it would be a really cool thing to be able to do to show off at parties, but that he knew that wine was quite expensive and water was very cheap. So he thought he could make money by producing it very cheaply and easily. So he wanted me to give him the secret of how it was done. And he was quite the little businessman!

So I started to try to explain that the turning of water into wine at Cana and all the other miracles that are recorded are signs given by Jesus to show that He was who He said He was – the Son of God. And those signs are recorded as stories in the Gospels in order that we too may feel confident in knowing that Jesus is the Son of God.

Well, I don’t know, maybe I went on a bit too long, because the young boy – his name is Matthew by the way – cut me off and said "So in order to do this, you have to be the Son of God – OK, forget it."

So, I am sorry that Matthew went away feeling that being the Son of God and turning water into wine were both things that are a little bit too difficult and beyond him. I hope that one day he may come to feel differently about both of those things.

I was sad about that because what I really wanted to be able to say is that turning water into wine is just a small symbol of God’s action in the world to bring good out of evil. That to be a Christian is to be a Child of God. And to be a Child of God is to do whatever one can to bring good out of whatever evil human situations one finds oneself in life. And, just sometimes, that requires Christians to do things that seem humanly impossible – to achieve depths of love, trust and forgiveness that are uncommon in our human world and that come not from within us, but from Above.

Let me give a small example: a couple of years ago a militant atheist decided - as a publicity stunt - that he would deliberately steal a host - a piece of the Body of Christ which we celebrate, venerate and honour - and deliberately desecrate it in a video on You-tube.

A bishop was asked on the radio news to give his response. The reporter was, of course, hoping for a fulminating angry condemnation that would give the story "legs". The bishop considered for a moment and then said he would like to make two points.

-The first is that this was obviously a deliberate attempt to provoke and when one is deliberately provoked, the single most important thing is always to respond with peace and love. Nobody ever died of being disrespected. But people have died - and even killed - as a result of allowing themselves to be provoked.

-The second is that - in Truth - this man had not desecrated the Eucharist; he had simply re-enacted it. We celebrate this Eucharist in everlasting memory of Jesus Christ who lived the most perfect of lives and who was murdered and whose body was desecrated by Roman soldiers – men – incapable of recognizing the presence and goodness of God in the world.

That, I believe is what we celebrate in our Sunday Eucharist – our commitment as Christians to follow Christ in making the best – the very best - of whatever we encounter in our lives. For these next seven days, we want to show the face of Christ in the world. Who knows what kind of dangers and the difficulties we may face. But the test of our Christianity is that we must bring good out of evil circumstances – we must be able to turn water into wine.

If you see Matthew, ask him to give it a try. It may not make him as wealthy as Bill Gates, but it may make him rich in an even better way.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who enables us to turn human water into His own Wine.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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