SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C) – January 20, 2019
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: “Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds”.
Today’s celebration in the Gospel reading of the Wedding Feast at Cana is closely associated with the celebrations of the Baptism of the Lord (last Sunday) and the Visit of the Wise Men to the Lord (two Sundays ago). All three are considered epiphanies or manifestations of Jesus’ divinity.
Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with His chosen people. He is the Groom, humanity is His beloved and sought-after bride – the Church. By Jesus’ kind act at Cana, He has shown us that He is interested in our earthly affairs. He became Man in order that we could become sons and daughters of God, He came on earth so that we could go to heaven, but this miracle at Cana proves that He has a deep interest and involvement in our many and varied activities during the course of our journey to heaven.
The commonality of today’s Scripture readings is expressed by the Responsorial Psalm – “Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds”. We should be mindful of these deeds, appreciative of them, and use them as God wills us to do so. In Reading 1, God restores freedom to the Israelis by their release from exile, Reading 2 identifies the gifts to us from the Holy Spirit, and the Gospel reading reveals Jesus’ miracle that rejuvenates the Wedding Feast. So, the Trinity performs these miraculous deeds for us and it then becomes our job to embrace these deeds and carry them forward for the benefit of ourselves, others and our society – especially our Church. The freedom from exile allowed the Israelis to build and enjoy a better nation. The Holy Spirit’s gifts provide the foundation upon which we can build upon to become better people and build a better society. Jesus’ miracle at the Wedding Feast does not just give us more wine to drink, but teaches us that He is the source of problem resolution (read salvation) in our lives.
Reading 1 – Isaiah 62:1-5God delights in Israel and will rejoice as a Bridegroom rejoices over His Bride.
Responsorial Psalm –Psalm 96:1-3,7-10A song in praise of God’s marvelous deeds.
Reading 2 –1 Corinthians 12:4-11All spiritual gifts originate from the same Holy Spirit.
Gospel – John 2:1-11Jesus performs His first sign (miracle) at a wedding feast in Cana.
This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.
NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following.Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document.
Reading 1 Isaiah 62:1-5 (God’s Love for His People)
Context –The keynote of the Book of Isaiah is salvation (Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves”). He was the prophet of the southern kingdom, Judah, and lived at the time (ie. 742 – 687 BC) when the northern kingdom, Israel, whose capital was Jerusalem, was destroyed. At this time all that was left of the old kingdom of David was Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. He prophesized for 64 years. He prophesized doom for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, he prophesized God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and this is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ. After the Psalms, Isaiah is the Old Testament book most quoted in the New Testament.
Todays’ Reading – These verses were written during the turbulent years after Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. The prophet seeks to reassure the people that God has not forgotten them even though they were very disloyal to Him. During her exile, Israel felt “Forsaken” and “Desolate”. Yahweh, Israel’s husband, was coming to reclaim His disloyal bride. There would be a new beginning; a new marriage symbolized by a new name “My Delight”. A second sign of the new beginning is the promise of reconstruction of the land, which will now be called “Espoused”. Forgiven and rehabilitated, Israel will be restored to its status as the “espoused and beloved” of God. The God who called us into being, offers us a new beginning whenever we need to repent and call upon Him.
For Zion’s [i] sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name (see below) pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall people call you “Forsaken”, or your land “Desolate”, but you shall be called “My Delight”, and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you and makes your land His spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, Your Builder shall marry you; and as a Bridegroom rejoices in His bride so shall Your God rejoice in you. [ii]
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. “new name“– A new name denotes a change in status, indicating a new identity and a new mission in that person’s life, the new name shows that they have changed from what they were. The new name meant something important about what God would make in that person. It expresses a new personal relationship with God and the high value He places on it. Examples: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Nathan the prophet, to Jedidiah, and Simon to Peter.
This psalm calls for praise and thanks on the lips of those who experienced firsthand God’s saving deeds of Israel of ancient days, and for us, it’s an exhortation to praise God for the coming of Christ and His kingdom.
R. – Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Sing to the LORD; bless His name.
R. – Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce His salvation, day after day. Tell His glory among the nations; among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.
R. – Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due His name!
R. – Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations. Worship the LORD in holy attire(see below). Tremble before Him, all the earth; Say among the nations: The LORD is King. He governs the peoples with equity.
R. – Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. “Worship the LORD in holy attire” – If the Queen of England were to attend Mass with us one Sunday, I’m positive that everyone else who were also attending would be dressed in proper attire. So why don’t all of us dress in proper attire at every Mass because Jesus will be attending and He is infinitely more important to us and to our salvation than the Queen?
Reading 2 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (Gifts of the Holy Spirit)
Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after the establishment of this Church, trouble arose including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. Paul’s pastoral guidance was needed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from falling prey to false prophets.
Today’s Reading – In these verses, Paul is addressing difficulties that have arisen in the community over the exercise of the charismatic gifts. Arrogance and competition over the gifts are threatening to divide the community. Paul reminds his readers of two important facts concerning these wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit. First, all these gifts are graces from God. The people did nothing to earn nor deserve them. Second, the gifts were not given so that individuals might think that they were superior to others. Rather, they were given so that the community – the Church, would be blessed.
Brothers and sisters: 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. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another, the expression 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, mighty deeds; to another, prophecy; to another, discernment of spirits; to another, varieties of tongues; to another, interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as He wishes. [iii]
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” – See also Isaiah 11:2 for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Fear of the Lord, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, console, and courage”.
Since all of these gifts have a common origin, the Holy Spirit, they should serve a common purpose. “Since no one has the capacity to receive all spiritual gifts, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given proportionately to the faith of each. When one is living in community with others, the grace privately bestowed on each individual becomes the common possession of the others. … One who receives any of these gifts does not possess it for his own sake but rather for the sake of others.” – Saint Basil the Great. This is a good reason for us to participate in a Prayer/Support Group. In other words: “It takes a community to make a Christian, a structured support system to take on habits. Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others.” – Pope Francis – “Rejoice and be Glad”.
Gospel John 2:1-11 (Jesus performs His first sign (miracle) at a wedding feast in Cana)
Context – The fourth gospel is not simply history; the narrative has been organized and adapted to serve the evangelist’s theological purposes as well. St. John the Theologian, the beloved disciple of Christ, explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. Jesus is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel. He also wrote the Book of Revelation and his three General Epistles – 1,2, & 3 John. Saint Jerome tells us that when John was a very old man his only message was “little children, love one another.” And when John’s followers asked him why he was always saying the same thing he always replied, “My children, this is what the Lord commands; if we do this, nothing else is necessary.” Originally St. John was a disciple of St. John the Baptist. The emblem for St. John was given the symbol of an eagle because his thoughts are especially exalted and his language is very majestic like the eagle that flies high above the earth. He was known as “The Theologian”, and the Apostle of Love”. He died in Ephesus of a natural death – the only one among the Apostles.
Today’s Reading – In John’s Gospel, miracles are signs intended to manifest (show) the glory of God through Jesus and to lead people to faith (i.e. obedient belief). Towards the end of today’s Gospel, we read these words, “thus did He reveal His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” Jesus uses a simple wedding occasion to reveal Himself as the bridegroom (Messiah) that Israel had waited for, for hundreds of years.
In the following, “My hour has not yet come” is a reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection. The “abundance of wine” is a reference to the abundance of new life, which Jesus brings, and the wine of the Eucharist, which symbolizes the New Covenant.
Also, in his Gospel, John shows Mary as involved at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and again at the end of it when She is present at the foot of the Cross. Notice how Mary does not draw attention to Herself. Rather, She tells the waiters to “do whatever Jesus tells you to do”. The essence of faithful discipleship is doing whatever Jesus tells us to do. When it comes to faithful discipleship, Mary is our model. In calling Mary “Woman”, Jesus is not showing His Mother disrespect. The title “woman” is akin to our word “ma’am”. Some versions of the Bible translate it as “Dear Woman“. I believe He called Her “Woman” to reveal to the world that the Holy Blessed Mother Mary is the new Eve. As Eve was called “Woman” in Genesis 2:23.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there [iv]. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the Mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” [v] And Jesus said to Her, “Woman, how does Your concern affect Me? My hour has not yet come.” His Mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory(ie. revealed God’s presence in Him.), and His disciples began to believe in Him.
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. Turning the water into wine was the first recorded miracle which Jesus had performed in public to manifest His glory. Some theologians believe that He had before wrought many miracles, known only to the Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph, which gave Her the confidence to ask for one now. It also serves to convince all Christians of the efficacy (effectiveness) of our Lady’s intercessions for us. His disciples believed in Him. They had believed in Him before or they would not have followed Him. This miracle helped confirm their faith, as it should also help confirm ours.
Catechism 1613 – On the threshold of His public life Jesus performs His first sign – at His Mother’s request – during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. The Church sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious (effective and powerful) sign of Christ’s presence.
A speaker at a wedding reception proposed the following advice to the newly married couple:
“Many interpretations abound about this miracle at Cana. Basically, a problem occurred at this marriage banquet, they ran out of wine. Jesus miraculously converted some water to wine and “saved the day”! Problems will occur in your marriage. Take each one as they happen with an open heart to Jesus and He will save the day for both of you, every time.”
[i]Reading 1 Footnotes: “Zion” = The names Zion and Jerusalem are interchangeable. The city of Jerusalem is built upon Mount Zion.
[ii] “Your Builder shall marry you; and as a Bridegroom rejoices in His bride so shall Your God rejoice in you.” = Israel is restored to that joyful, innocent age of long ago when she was God’s virgin spouse. This marriage theme evokes thoughts of the marriage feast at Cana (our Gospel reading for today).
[iii]Reading 2 Footnote: Distribution of the spiritual gifts = Since the same Holy Spirit distributes (gives) and produces (makes them operate), no one should be puffed up with pride – all is given for the common good. One who possesses a gift and does not share it not only deprives themselves of its benefits, they deprive the entire community and the gift is lost.
[iv] Gospel Footnotes: “the Mother of Jesus was there” = It is supposed that Mary was then a Widow, since in all the rest of the history of Jesus, not a single word occurs referencing St. Joseph after the reporting of his dream in which an angle instructed him to take the Holy Family back to Israel from Egypt.
[v]“They have no wine.” = The Blessed Virgin Mother was well aware of the divine power of Her Son, and that the time had come when He desired to make Himself known to the world, since He agreed to attend the banquet. She could not make Her request in more modest terms and She did it out of charity and compassion for the new married couple. It also serves to convince all Christians of the efficacy (effectiveness) of our Lady’s intercessions for us.