20 January 20192 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
2 Ordinary Time
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
John 2:1-12

The little boy of a Christian father with a forever gloomy face saw a horse. He shouted, "Daddy, he must be a Christian. He too has a long face."

Today's Gospel is I suspect an all-time favorite of everybody and his sister. No less an august personage than Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski was enchanted by it. In The Brothers Karamazof, he wrote, "Cana, the first miracle, the compassionate one when Jesus joined not in human sorrow but in human happiness."

It is only John the Evangelist who tells us of this miracle. Very possibly the teen-ager John was among the guests present. And of course he wrote of it as an old man. We must assume that the Cana incident was something which he could never forget. No doubt he dwelled upon it often. I am certain he wrote of it because he felt the miracle has much to teach us. How correct he was!

The tale tells us a good deal about Mary. As we know, it was she who informed her Son that the wine had run out. How did she know? One author answers. She was working in the kitchen with the bride's parents and helping them to cook the food for the buffet. There she saw her brother-in-law's alarm. There is an old tradition that the bride's mother was in fact Mary's sister.

So, we must immediately conclude that Mary was very much a warm Jewish woman. She was most anxious to help her sister and her niece keep the costs down by volunteering her own labor. This picture of Mary may well be a fresh one for many of us. That is especially true of those of us who think only of Mary as a woman in permapress blue and white. But the latter is the picture of a plastic person who is constantly looking ever so devoutly into the heavens with hands folded. She apparently has nothing else to do. Thus, the clever John is deliberately drawing for us a flesh and blood Mary. Your prayers to her will come easier I dare say if you keep this tableau before you.

Furthermore, the miracle reveals that whenever Mary found herself in a pinch or a bind, she instinctively turned to her Son. Having lived with him for thirty years, she knew that He would deliver. What do you think she is telling us? And will you and I take her advice?

Even when her Son apparently turned down her request, Mary did not throw in the towel. Quite the contrary! She turned to the bartenders and instructed them to stand ready. Her faith and trust in the Christ remained firm and solid. She knew He was such a soft touch that He surely would do something. He would not see the bride and groom humiliated in front of their guests. Is not John instructing each of us that our faith in the Teacher must be similar to that of His own mother? Could it be that we take no for an answer too often and too soon?

Notice too where this miracle takes place. It is situated in the home of working class people in an inconsequential, even run-down town in Galilee. This is a word-picture of Christ the populist. He is willing to squeeze Himself into our kitchens, slip off His old sandals, and take a seat at our scarred tables. God is obviously more than willing to involve Himself in the humdrum of our everyday lives. The same God, who keeps the cosmos alive in the palm of His hand, is likewise willing to concern Himself with my very mundane problems. If I do not bring Him my nickel and dime requests, it is I who am foolish. It is I who have misread the intent of today's Gospel of John.

Notice too the occasion. It is of course a wedding. It is a time for laughter, music, and very obviously wine. John draws for us a Jesus who Himself enjoys a good time. A party was obviously not something which was beneath Him. It was something He sought. He was clearly no party pooper.

A Christian who walks about with a long face should meditate long and loud on this Cana tale. He or she has much to learn and, more importantly, to change. The sooner the better! Remember the remark of the boy who began our reflection.

Anytime that we genuinely welcome the Teacher into our lives, a miracle takes place. What was colorless becomes a rainbow of colors. What was prosaic becomes poetical.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: Cana Revisited

Today's Gospel presents one of the best known miracles in Jesus' ministry, the changing of water into wine at Cana. The presence of the Lord at this marriage feast has resulted in our associating Cana with Catholic marriage. This is OK, but actually, the miracle is less about the sacrament of marriage than it is about the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Let's take a closer look at this "first sign" to use the words of the Evangelist, John.

The account begins with a somewhat disturbing dialogue between Jesus and Mary. She tells him that they have run out of wine, and he says, "Women, what does this concern of yours have to do with me? It is not yet my hour?" A lot is lost in the translation, to say the least. When Jesus calls his mother woman, he is not being sharp, like some kid calling his mother, lady. Instead, he is calling his mother the name given to the first of her gender, Eve. Mary is the new Eve. By asking Jesus to do something, she, like Eve, is going to put into motion an event that will transform the world. Eve put a negative event into motion. Her actions ultimately resulted in the Fall. Mary's actions are going to result in salvation. That's why Jesus brings up the concept of the hour. He is not telling time here. He is saying that the hour of his passion, death and resurrection have not yet come. The hour of salvation has not yet arrived. But Jesus acquiesces to his Mom's demands and by doing this he becomes a public figure destined for the Cross.

Mary tells the steward to do what Jesus tells him. This is the proper response to the presence of Jesus: "Trust in his word." Six water jars were used for purification. The number is important here, also. Six is one less than seven, the days of creation. Six therefore always refers to a lack of perfection. Mankind's lack of perfection are going to be transformed by the presence of the Savior.

The water that had been in the jars was used for purification. Jesus is going to transform it into something that will be used for a greater purification, not just wine, but his blood. You see, this passage is not just about wine, it is about the wine that will be transformed into the Blood of Christ. The passage is about mankind sharing in the death of the Lord through the Eucharist. The first sign, Cana, points to the Final Sign in the Gospel of John, the crucifixion, when Jesus is raised up on the Cross.

Biblical study like this can be enjoyable, but, like the chief priests and scribes of the Gospel on the Epiphany who knew where the Messiah would be born, but were totally oblivious to the implication this would have to their spiritual lives, scripture study is useless if we do not allow it to affect our hearts. What, is this passage saying to us?

First of all, the passage points to the extraordinary transformation of the world begun at Cana. The transformation took place because people trusted in the Word of the Lord. The means for purification from the evil of the world would be transformed from symbolic washing to sharing in the Blood of Christ.

When we receive communion we are participating in this transformation of the world. When we receive communion we are united to the One who died on the Cross for us. We receive communion every week. We have to be careful that we never receive communion routinely. We need to remind ourselves that every reception of the Eucharist is a union with the crucified Savior whose blood has defeated the power of evil, not just in the world, but also in our lives. All of us, myself included, need to reflect more on what we are doing when we come up to communion. We can not allow this extraordinary even to become ordinary.

Mary has an instruction for us in this gospel passage. She tells the wine steward and she tells us to trust in Jesus' word. Consider this simple directive. Jesus has told us that we will never be alone. In the Gospel of Matthew he says that he will be with us always. Jesus has told us that God cares for each of us. In both Matthew and Luke we hear, "Are sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows." There are times that we feel alone. Henri Nouwen wrote that this was part of the human condition. That is the feeling, but the reality is that we are never alone. We have to trust in the Word of the Lord. God knows. God cares. God is with us. We have to trust in his Word.

Finally, the passage leads us to a consideration of the New World of Jesus Christ. This is a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. It is a world where simple people become great spiritual leaders. It is a world where the least important in society is raised up with the Dignity of the God to the most important in the Kingdom. We have to take care that we don't get so bogged down with the sham events of our spiritually deprived and materialistically depraved world that we miss the really important events taking place all around us. Children are proclaiming the presence of God. Adults are reaching out to his presence in others. We are being enriched by his love in our families. For the Christian, the extraordinary is ordinary. It is quite normal for the water of the world to become the wine of Christ. The reading is telling us that we live in miraculous times. Jesus is transforming our world through the blood of his cross.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
2 Ordinary Time
Seeking a Bride
(January 20, 2019)

Bottom line: Jesus comes to save. He is seeking a bride who he himself forms.

Last week we saw that although we talk about human goodness, we know that on some level we are not OK. For that reason we need Jesus, we need a savior, we need the rebirth of baptism. Jesus comes to save us. As we say in the Creed, "for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven." The word "men" of course includes women and children. Like we say in the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal..." It means everyone. Jesus desires the salvation of all.

Today we see another way of looking at why Jesus came. I hope this won't sound flippant, but not only does Jesus come to save, he comes to seek a bride.

We can see this in our reading from Isaiah. Bishop Robert Barron observes that this reading shows the "uniquely biblical view of God." He is not a deistic God who winds up the universe and lets it go. Nor is he an indifferent force as in the nature mysticism you see in movies like Avatar and Star Wars. No, the Bible shows God active and passionate. Today we hear him say to Israel, "No more shall people call you 'Forsaken' or your land 'Desolate'". Instead "you shall be called 'My Delight' and your land 'Espoused'". Then he says, "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."

So God wishes to form Israel as his bride. That's precisely what we see Jesus doing. Toward the beginning of Mark's Gospel, they ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast. He responds with a question, "Can the wedding guests fast when the bridegroom is with them?" Jesus is not simply one more prophet. He is the embodiment of the God of Israel. He come to seek a bride.

This helps explain why Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding feast. It's strange when you think about it. He puts on hold all the sick, the crippled, the lepers, all those gripped by demons. And what does Jesus do? He makes wine. He does it to prevent a social disaster. Jewish weddings lasted several days and if the wine runs out, people will just drift away, leaving the newly married couple embarrassed and humiliated.

So Mary says to Jesus, "they have no wine." This refers to more than fermented grape juice. Bishop Barron points out that in the Bible wine is a sign of the exuberance and intoxication of divine life. Isaiah 25 speaks about a heavenly banquet with "juicy meat and pure choice wine". That wine is the intoxication of God's presence.

At Mary's request Jesus does something unexpected. Women often reset the script for men. We can see this even in Jesus' ministry. At Mary's request Jesus performs his first miracle. And what a miracle! Six stone water jars each holding 20 to 30 gallons. Let's split the difference and say 25. That's 150 gallons of pure, choice wine.

Jesus loves young married couples. I tell young people: Do not be afraid. Follow what's deepest in your heart. Invite Jesus and his mother into your marriage and family. Troubles will come, but if you trust Jesus and ask Mary to intercede, they will help you.

To sum up: Jesus comes to save. He is seeking a bride who he himself forms. We'll see more next Sunday as we hear St. Paul say, "You are Christ's body and individually parts of it." Today let's recognize that God is much more than Aristotle's Unmoved Mover* or the Clock-maker who winds the universe up and lets it go. Nor is he some indifferent force. No, he's like that young man who marries a virgin. Jesus comes to seek a bride. Amen.


*Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made this point: "The thing that must always console us is that as we struggle, we do not struggle alone. And there is something in our Christian faith to remind us of this: The God that we worship is not some Aristotelian "unmoved mover" who merely contemplates upon himself. He's not merely a self-knowing God, but He's an other-loving God working through history for the salvation of his children." cf. MLK's address to the Methodist Student Movement

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
2 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
2 Ordinary Time

These homilies may be copied and adapted for your own use; however, they may not be commercially published without permission of the author.