17 January 2016: Second Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 62:1-5 Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10 1 Cor 12:4-11 Jn 2:1-11

 

Weddings, gifts, and wine

During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. Over the next three Sundays, we will follow Jesus as he begins his ministry and calls his disciples. The readings challenge RCIA participants to change and to discipleship. This week’s readings connect Isaiah’s new covenant with Jesus’ first sign at Cana.

The first reading is from the prophet Isaiah (actually, the third Isaiah, who lived during the Jerusalem restoration after the exile). Isaiah tells the Hebrews that God will create a new relationship or covenant with the chosen people, a covenant as intimate as a marriage. The Lectionary editors chose this reading to match today’s gospel, which fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy.

The second reading is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul writes to the Corinth ekklesia because the membership is divided. Some members believe they are better than others because they have received special gifts, especially glossolalia–the ability to “speak in tongues.” Paul tells the Corinthians that all gifts are from God and that a member does not receive a gift solely for his or her own benefit. God gives each member a gift for a specific reason or to fulfill a need within the ekklesia.

The gospel is John’s wedding feast at Cana. In this short story of Jesus’ first sign, John sums up Jesus’ identity, his fulfillment of scripture, and his mission:

  • Wedding and wedding feast: John sets Jesus first sign at a Galilean marriage. Throughout Hebrew scripture, prophets and writers use marriage metaphors to describe the covenant between God and the chosen people. John’s setting suggests that God’s saving act–God’s covenant with the Hebrews–is being extended and transformed by God incarnate (Jesus).
  • Water into wine: On a human level, we empathize with the groom and bride who run out of drinks, but John’s dialogue suggests a larger meaning. Through the prophets, God promised a definitive act of salvation to redeem the people and to renew the covenant–the messiah would be such a sign. The prophets compare the renewed covenant with a marriage between God and God’s people. Under this new covenant, God will not simply provide for God’s people–God will exceed the people’s needs so that no one will want for anything. The prophets describe this time as an age of prosperity, exemplified by a superabundance of good wine. At Cana, these prophecies come together: the messiah (Jesus) is present with new people of God (his mother and his disciples) at a marriage feast (covenant), and the messiah works a sign (transforming water to wine) of messianic superabundance (180 gallons of wine).
  • Believe in him: In John’s gospel, Jesus performs signs to bring people to faith. The disciples begin to believe in Jesus–they believe in him personally, not in some abstract assent to doctrine.

The readings remind RCIA participants and the entire believing community that God comes to us in the ordinary and the everyday to make us new. God’s kingdom is filled to overflowing with good things. The messiah–God-with-us–is already here. God has given each of us gifts to build up God’s kingdom. Do we recognize God’s presence and use God’s gifts for others, or do we think only about running out of our own wine?

—Terence Sherlock

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