Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scripture Readings: The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

First Reading: Isaiah 62: 1-5

For Sion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not rest till her just one come forth as brightness, and her saviour be lighted as a lamp. And the Gentiles shall see your just one, and all kings your glorious one: and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. And you shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be called Forsaken: and your land shall no more be called Desolate: but you shall be called My pleasure in her, and your land inhabited. Because the Lord has been well pleased with you: and your land shall be inhabited. For the young man shall dwell with the virgin, and your children shall dwell in you. And the bridegroom shall rejoice over the bride, and your God shall rejoice over you.

Second Reading: First Corinthians 12: 4-11

Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministries but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who works all in all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: To another, faith in the same spirit: to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit: To another the working of miracles: to another, prophecy: to another, the discerning of spirits: to another, diverse kinds of tongues: to another, interpretation of speeches. But all these things, one and the same Spirit works, dividing to every one according as he will.

Gospel: John 2: 1-11

And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus said to him: They have no wine. And Jesus says to her: Woman, what is that to me and to you? My hour is not yet come. His mother says to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus says to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus says to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calls the bridegroom, and said to him: Every man at first sets forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But you have kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.


Back into Ordinary time at last (okay, so it actually started last week), we find ourselves in what I consider to be one of the more comedic Gospel stories. In any case, I find it amusing, in a ‘profound, inspired-by-the-Holy-Spirit’ kind of way. There’s the way Jesus apparently dismisses Mary’s concern about the wine, only for her to turn around and tell the waiters that He’ll do something about it. Then Jesus responds by making a ludicrously oversized surplus of wine.
            Whatever else, I think this story clinches the fact that Jesus has a sense of humor.
            In all seriousness, there is a lot going on here, especially regarding Mary. In the first case, it’s interesting that (despite what I said above) Jesus never actually dismisses Mary’s concerns, and, even more interesting, Mary never asks Him to do anything. She merely appraises Him of the situation and lets Him proceed as He sees fit. What we have here is a glimpse of two people who understand each other perfectly. All Mary has to do is tell Him what the situation is, and she knows that He will do something about it. Moreover, she takes steps to ‘prepare the way’ for Him to work. It’s actually a remarkably clever move; she doesn’t give the waiters any specific instructions, since she doesn’t know what, if anything, her Son is going to do. Instead, she simply tells them to “do whatever He tells you.” She trusts that He is going to do something, but she doesn’t try to direct Him in anyway.   
Jesus, for His part, responds with a question: “Woman, what is that to me and you? My hour has not yet come.”
 First of all, it’s interesting that Jesus frames the issue as a communal one (“what is that to me and you”). In so doing, He includes Mary in His ministry and purpose (“my hour”). That is to say, He implies that it is a ‘team effort’ so to speak.
Now, this does two things; first and most obviously, it points to Mary’s own role in salvation as to bearer of Christ, not only literally, as His mother, but also spiritually, as seen when she directs the servers to Him (the servers otherwise would have no reason at all to look for help to one of the guests). Secondly, it speaks to the communal aspect of the Church. Jesus expects us, like Mary, to be ‘part of the team’ as it were; that our concerns should be His, and His ours. The Church, we see (as outlined more concretely elsewhere), is a team; a squad. It’s essentially communal in nature, both between each individual and Jesus and between individual Christians.           
Moving on, Jesus says that “My hour has not yet come.” Now, this implies that He was not yet ready to begin His public ministry, but He does so anyway. So, it seems that that wasn’t what He meant by “my hour.” Rather, I think it refers to His Passion, which is, obviously, the most important moment of His ministry.
So why would a mere question about wine lead Him to refer to His Passion? Because of the wine. Jesus’ Passion will one day be made manifest in wine (and bread, but that doesn’t come up here). What Jesus is saying here is, basically, “it isn’t the time for the true wine that I will give them, namely my blood for their salvation. But, that they may believe, I will give them ordinary wine.”
Related to that, the phrase “me and you” in this context takes on yet another meaning; the wine that Jesus will eventually give them is His blood, but it is Mary’s blood as well. I’ll delve more into this point in a later post, but, briefly, since Mary was Jesus’ mother, and since He had no earthly father, genetically they would have been identical. Hence, the blood that flows in His veins, which He will offer as wine, is the exact same blood that flows in her veins as well. So, when Jesus says “what is that to me and you,” He is also saying “they can’t have the wine which is our blood yet.”

Vive Christus Rex!

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