Through Jesus, God Saves the Best for Last
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Is. 62:1-5; Ps. 96; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Jn. 2:1-11
(Audio recorded live, 16 January 2022)
Today, the prophet Isaiah speaks of how all the nations shall behold the restoration of Jerusalem, and all their kings see its glory. The land will no longer be called “Desolate,” but rather “Espoused,” for the Lord God shall make the land his spouse like a young couple on their wedding day. In other words, God will once again favor the land that was allowed to be overrun by Babylon. In a certain sense, these words are fulfilled in our hearing. As Jesus says, “Those with ears to hear ought to hear.”
Next, we have St. Paul speaking of the many profound ways in which the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every individual for some benefit. He then lists those gifts: The expression of wisdom, the expression of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, varieties of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. We recall studying these gifts while preparing for our Confirmation. They are many and they are given by the Spirit to each as he wishes. This is evidence that God has a plan for each of us, and has given us certain gifts to fulfill that plan.
What I would like to highlight with respect to the manifold gifts the Spirit gives to each person is the reality that no single person has all the gifts at once. Rather, as part of a community of believers, the People of God, we have been gifted in such ways that we might use those gifts for the good of one another, to support one another, to strengthen our awareness of the Spirit working in and through us. It is not good for man to be alone, as God says in the Book of Genesis, so woman enters the scene and through them the family, the community, the Church. We are in this together, but each bringing his or her unique gifts.
We see an example of this kind of community working together in the Gospel. This is one of the first miracles Jesus performs: Turning water into wine. Notwithstanding the symbolism of the wine representing the blood he would shed on the cross, we have a special interaction between Jesus, the new Adam, and his mother, the new Eve. Did you notice how Jesus’ mother was not named? Instead, John says, “the mother of Jesus was there.” Even Jesus himself calls her, “Woman.” Interesting how John, who took Mary into his home and cared for her after Jesus died, would omit her name from this passage. He must have done so for a reason. Perhaps one reason is because this passage speaks of the role of all mothers, how they have a responsibility to direct their children to areas where their Spiritual gifts may truly shine. How many of us have gone to our mothers asking for this kind of guidance? Perhaps Jesus calling his mother, “Woman,” is a way of him addressing all women, and by extension, all people. After all, if not for women, there would be no people. And so, Jesus asks, “How does your concern affect me?” Consider Jesus asks this question of each of us whenever we pray. Then consider how his mother responds. In fact, there is no response to Jesus. She does not demand anything of him, rather, she allows him the freedom to act as he does. Instead, she tells the waiters to “do whatever he tells you.” What faith. What example. And what great power she has in bringing this concern to Jesus and then encouraging others to cooperate with him to solve their problem. Might this be an image of the Church in action? First, we state our concerns to Jesus, then we cooperate with the Spirit to arrive at a solution.
Of course, with Jesus, God saves the best for last. The headwaiter exclaims that usually people serve the better wine early in the party, then cheap wine near the end, but rather, this couple has saved the best wine for the end. And so it is for all of us. Our life without the Spirit is often like eating sour grapes. By clinging to old ways, we find ourselves treading water. Jesus came to show us a new path to the Father, the Narrow Gate. The land is indeed espoused by the offering of his own blood. The debt has already been paid. We can live free, but we must cooperate with the Spirit. The Father is calling us to himself, and Jesus has shown us the way. May our joining together today strengthen our awareness of the many gifts of the Spirit we all have so that we may put them into action. We may not change water into wine, but when we cooperate with the Spirit of God, we won’t have to.
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