Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Second Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year C

By Father Donald Dilger
Father Donald Dilger

Second Sunday in  Ordinary Time, Year C

Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

Today is the third Sunday in succession on which the first reading is taken from the Book of Isaiah. Last Sunday, the Baptism of Jesus, the reading came from those chapters, 40 thru 55, which are attributed to a prophet known as Second Isaiah about the year 540 B.C. The setting was in Babylonian exile. On the Epiphany, the first reading was from those chapters, 56-66, which are attributed to a prophet known as Third or Trito-Isaiah. The first reading today is also from Trito-Isaiah. The setting is Jerusalem, after the exile, and after the rebuilding of the temple. The time — about 515 B.C. The prophet continues his rapping as a cheerleader to a troubled and economically failing community of returned exiles. A major theme of this first reading could be summed up in the slogan, “Make Jerusalem great again!” MJGA

The prophet speaks directly to a depressed people. He says, “I won’t keep quiet until I see Zion, (Jerusalem) as a burning torch.”  He calls Jerusalem a crown in the hand of God. From being lamented as “forsaken” and “desolate,” the city will get a new name: “My Delight, My Espoused.” The idea of the Lord God as the espoused or promised husband to Zion is probably derived from the 8th century prophet Hosea. There is a promise of marriage: “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder (the Lord God) will marry you. As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” All these great metaphors inspire hope. The first reading and the gospel of Ordinary Sundays have a similar theme or themes. Those themes are marriage and joy. The gospel of today begins, “There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.”

The Responsorial Psalm, 96, speaks of the wondrous deeds of the Lord and the obligation to proclaim the Lord’s glory to the nations. The intention of the liturgy seems to understand these phrases as relating to the wondrous deed of Jesus changing water into wine, his first of seven great “signs” or miracles in John’s gospel. Even the psalm’s reference to proclaiming “the Lord’s glory to the nations” finds a home in the gospel reading, as John writes, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee, and so revealed his glory.” The second reading on an Ordinary Sunday does not usually have a theme in common with the gospel. And so it is on this Sunday.

In 1 Corinthians Paul has to guide and solve problems for this new Christian Community in Greece, founded on his 2nd missionary journey. One of their problems was the proper use of charisms — gifts of the Holy Spirit, and recognizing that not everyone in the community has been given the same gifts.  Paul calls them “spiritual gifts.” He implies that there was some disorder not only in determining who has which gifts but in the exercise of those gifts. He includes a long list of charisms. Since all the charisms are gifts of the same Holy Spirit, their possession and expression must lead to unity rather than disorder. This teaching will lead him, in next Sunday’s second reading, to a long discussion of the Christian Community as the Body of Christ.

As noted above, the gospel for this Sunday is the wedding at Cana. This story occurs only in the Gospel of John. John’s gospel does not get its own year of readings like the other gospels, yet occasionally in all three years quite a few Sunday gospel selections are taken from John. Note that the main invitee seems to be “the mother of Jesus.” But John adds, “Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.” To which he adds immediately, “When the wine ran short . . . .” Is John here hinting why the wine ran short? Not likely. The seven signs John selected for his

Gospel were chosen to reveal the glory of God. Thus far we have encountered the mother of Jesus, (whose name John never mentions), Jesus himself, and his disciples. The latter have to be present as witnesses, as John writes, “Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him.” We will soon encounter the steward (headwaiter, maître d’).

The mother of Jesus comes to the aid of the maître d’ and the embarrassed wedding couple. “Son, they have no wine.” Or is she just stating the fact that they ran short of wine? Not in John’s mysterious theology. The key is in Jesus’ unusual address to his mother, “Woman, what is that to you and to me?” There is no need to translate this sentence to make it sound less harsh. It is what it is, something like Luke’s Jesus, speaking to his mother, “And did you know that I must be in my Father’s business?” There is mystery here! There is one other time in John’s gospel when Jesus addresses his mother as “Woman!” From the cross, when he commends the Beloved Disciple, representing all Christians, as a son to is mother, “Woman, Behold, your son!” What Jesus completed on the cross for his mother, he already allowed her to begin at his first sign or miracle, to be a mother to his disciples, two of whom, the young couple, were helped by her intercession, even though Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come.”

The six stone jars play a key role. They were there for the convenience of the guests. As they entered the wedding feast, they splashed water on their face, arms, and hands, symbolically purifying themselves from any ritual uncleanness contracted en route to the wedding. When Jesus says, “Fill the jars with water,” John implies that they were not full. John is engaged in one of his favorite theological devices — Replacement and/or Perfection Theology. The six jars for purification symbolize Old Testament rituals. John depicts Jesus replacing or perfecting those rituals by commanding their fullness. By the changing of the ritual water of purification into wine, John proclaims that Jesus is the perfection of these rituals. In the next episode John will proclaim Jesus the replacement and perfection of the temple.