2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“A Wedding Surprise!”
The prophet Isaiah promises that Jerusalem, destroyed and abandoned, will once again be the beloved spouse of God.
The second reading touches on a very topical point for our communities: it speaks of “Charisms”. God grants these to each one of us so that we can serve our brothers and sisters better.
In the Gospel, the miracles of Jesus were the manifestations of his divine power. Mary was the first cell of the believing community, the Mother of the Church.
The first reading and the Gospel use the image of marriage to describe the relationship between God and his people.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
In today’s first reading, God uses the image of conjugal love to describe his great affection for the people of Israel. Jerusalem is compared to a spouse and is being called strange names: Forsaken, Desolation (4). Even the most beautiful girls slowly lose their youthful charm, withered away by age, sorrow and disease.
Jerusalem had been unfaithful to her spouse (the Lord), she had offered her graces to her many lovers (the gods of the Assyrians and Babylonians) and these had humbled her, like a prostitute. How was her marriage to the Lord supposed to end?
What do husbands generally do to unfaithful wives? Do they welcome back into the home once decadence has disfigured them? ‘Certainly not!” They don’t take them back at all! They normally even avoid the sight of them.
The people of Israel, back from their long exile in Babylon, found Jerusalem like a heap of ruins, and began to think that there was nothing to do; they were convinced that God had repudiated them forever. However, the love of God is not as weak and fragile as the love of men and women. In spite of all the betrayals, he does not reject his spouse.
The prophet knew these thoughts of the Lord, and that is why he promised the discouraged people: Jerusalem will get a new name; it will be called “My Delight”. What happened to the “Spouse-Jerusalem” is an image of what happens to every person, to every Christian community that betrays Christ. The idols (money, sex, power, glory…) that bewitch us with their many false promises of happiness will soon turn out to be exploiting lovers.
Is there somebody among us who has not been disappointed by these ‘lovers’ time and again? The reading of today has a message of hope for all those who in life have experienced the destruction and desolation caused by sin: God does not love his spouse because of her beauty, he makes her beautiful by loving her; he does not punish her, nor does he not forsake her because of her betrayals, he makes her faithful with his unfailing love. God’s gratuitous love is all-embracing.
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10.
The Psalm consists of phrases from many biblical sources, all used today to praise God. He is greeted as a king who really cares for his people. This Psalm may have been used at the feast of Tabernacles when the thousands of lights in Jerusalem made night like day, as Isaiah visualized.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
“Charism” means “a gratuitous gift of God”, and so it is a very good thing, and yet the second reading is telling us that within the community of Corinth there was a lot of confusion just because of these charisms. Among the charisms there was one that was held in particular esteem: the gift of tongues. It consisted in the ability to go into an ecstasy during community prayers and then speak in strange languages. It was seen as a great honour to praise God in this ecstatic manner but it raised some problems. Many were trying and those who failed were rather annoyed and felt inferior to other members of the community. Those who prayed during their ecstasies did it all together, creating a lot of confusion. Paul feels the duty to intervene and gives some guidelines.
Paul’s converts in Corinth prided themselves on the gifts of the Spirit. They estimated the quality of their Christianity by their flamboyance. Paul in 1 Corinthians congratulates them on these gifts. But he insists that since they came from a common origin, the Spirit of God, they must be for a common purpose and not divide the community. They witness to the same God, described in Trinitarian terms as the Spirit, Lord and God.
Their importance is based on the benefits these gifts bring to the community. The most important gifts was that of love and preaching wisdom which fosters a better understanding of God’s plans, which meant for Paul the ‘Word on the Cross’ (1 Cor. 1:20) and the least was that of speaking in tongues.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is invited to a wedding in Cana with his disciples and it is here that he works his first miracle. Jesus is present at the wedding with his mother also and she is the one who invites him to help the newly-wed couple. The miracle is possible because the servants obey the command of Jesus. The experience of the first Christians was that Mary has a special place in the life and ministry of Jesus and that she is a gift to the believers of all times. We can also consider her as our Mother and trust that she intercedes for all the beloved disciples of Jesus. She tells the servants: “do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:6).
Jesus appears to be reluctant to help the newly-wed couple in their embarrassment as they run out of wine for the feast. He says that his ‘hour’ has not yet come. In the Gospel of John the hour of Jesus is a very important theological theme. The time is not yet right but it is coming. When finally the hour comes it will be time for suffering, death, and then Resurrection (Jn. 17:1). It is a manifestation of whom Jesus really is, the ‘One’ sent by God with a mission of proclaiming God’s love and of leading people to life in abundance.
The hour of Jesus reminds us today that God has his hour also for us. Like Jesus we have to accept how and when he will reveal himself to us. When we have great needs or major problems in our lives like famine, great poverty, sickness and natural disasters, we want God to manifest his power here and now. But real faith, the faith that Jesus had, can trust God as to allow him to intervene in his own time and hour. God’s time is the best time. When John speaks of miracles as signs, he wants us to go beyond the external aspects of the deed itself to meet the God of Jesus, who is present and active in and through Jesus.
The steward at the wedding knew how things were done. You serve the good wine while people are sober enough to care about vintage and as the celebration goes on; ‘wedding parties could last for days back then’, you gradually serve up some all-but undrinkable beverages. Who would notice on the third day what they were drinking? He is the first one in John’s Gospel to greet the paradox of the kingdom: The ‘last will be first, the first last’; and the choice wine comes up when you least expect it. You know ‘not the day nor the hour for anything’, so be alert at all times and do not be surprised by unexpected joys.
The steward more interested in serving the guests than pondering the event, hurries off to do his job. The disciples come to have faith in him after this display of authority over the elements of water and wine. We, too, find our faith strengthened in the water and the wine. We know the choice wine is saved for the last meal, the only one we need in the kingdom.
The wedding feast at Cana not only narrates the first sign of Jesus but also is rich in biblical symbolism. The coming of the Messiah is often portrayed as a wedding banquet. The amount of fine wine given by Jesus equals between 120 and 180 gallons, which reflects the Old Testament motif of an abundance of wine in the final days (Amos 9:13-14; Hos. 14:8; Jer. 31:12).
In John’s Gospel there are seven such signs because seven is a number signifying perfection and completeness. To present ‘seven signs’ is to give a full picture of Jesus’ extraordinary deeds. Each sign is meant to lead the disciples and the Christian community into a deeper faith in Jesus. In the ‘seven sacraments’, we continue to remember and to celebrate the signs of Jesus. They are meant to lead us into a deeper trust in Jesus today. Through these signs Jesus continues to show God’s power and his love to us.
Mary had the faith that enables us to trust even when we don’t understand. In times of trouble and confusion, we can turn to Jesus, even when it looks as though he can’t do anything or doesn’t want to. Mary knew him better than that, and so should we. He never let her down, and he feels the same way about us. He will never let us down!
God does not even name the bride and groom because the real marriage was between God and humanity. It shows the abundance of God’s giving.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Like Jerusalem, we have been unfaithful to the Lord. We have offered up our love, trust and hope in the things of this world. We have even put these ‘things’ as more important in our lives than our Creator. Reflect on the times we have allowed this to happen and how he welcomed us back with love and forgiveness like his prodigal son or daughter.
Mon. … When we force God out of our lives, the ‘evil one’ quickly fills up that void in our hearts. We will be given ‘new lovers’ in the form of idols symbolizing the things of this world, who or which promise us great pleasures which we misconstrue as true happiness. The first reading has a message of truth and hope for all of us who have experienced the destruction and desolation caused by our wrong choices as a result of these false promises.
Tues. … Often when we return from our self-imposed exile, we find that our lives are in a state of disarray and turmoil and feel that God has punished and abandoned us. God has not punished us or forsaken us; we have abandoned God and punished ourselves by our wrong choices. God’s love for us is not as fragile and insincere as our love and, in spite of our betrayals, God loves us and forgives us and awaits our repentance and our return home. Are we as forgiving to others who have made the wrong choices?
Wed. … In the second reading, Paul helps us to better understand the ‘Gifts’ of the Holy Spirit. We must never feel that our ‘gifts’ and abilities are less than or inferior to others. We have all been created different, our gifts are special and reflect God’s unique plan for each one of us. Paul rates their importance on the benefits that these gifts bring to the community. When we serve others with gratuitous love and true wisdom, our gifts shine brightest.
Thur. … In the Gospel reading, Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”. The coming of the Messiah is often portrayed as a wedding banquet. Mary is also telling us as the ‘new people of God’ to follow Christ’s teachings before his ‘coming’. Do we really make the effort to understand his teachings in the Gospel? Have we made our relationship with God right?
Frid. … Do we fully understand the paradox of the kingdom: that the ‘last will be first, and the first last’; and that we do not know the ‘day nor the hour’? We all need to be alert and make the right preparations. What preparations? The Gospel is our guide, our road map to our salvation. We must understand its directions for us and follow the ‘Way’, the ‘Truth’ and the ‘Life’.
Sat. … In John’s Gospel, there are ‘Seven Signs’, which give us a full picture of Jesus’ extraordinary deeds, which will lead us into a deeper understanding and faith in Jesus, our Redeemer. In the ‘Seven Sacraments we continue to celebrate these signs of Jesus, which continue to show God’s power and his love for us. Let us persevere to be true to this covenant of marriage between God and his ‘people’, his unfaithful spouse, and pray for his saving graces of love and mercy.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Almighty God and Father, grant us Your grace to never lose our faith, our love, our hope and our trust in You. Grant us the wisdom to never doubt You. Grant us the strength to overcome all temptations and to never put our trust in the idols of this world.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.