2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 20, 2019
Today, I want to do a kind of “Bible-study” approach as my homily.
At the end of your rows of seats, there are copies of today’s gospel. I would ask you to please pass these down so that everyone can have a copy; I think this will help us to appreciate the passage a bit more.
This is from St. John’s Gospel and John organizes a lot of his gospel around key events called “signs.” The idea is that John sees some of the key events in Jesus’ life as signs or symbols, as pointing to something beyond themselves.
Today’s story of the wedding at Cana is the first of these “signs.” So, let’s look at some of the details in this passage and see what they are telling us.
The Wedding: The Problem
To begin with, Mary says to Jesus, “`They have no wine.’” Jesus’ mother could simply be concerned here about the embarrassment of the newly married couple in running out of wine.
But on another level, “`They have no wine’”also means that they – and all of humanity – have no way to God. Their relationship with God has run dry.
Then, Jesus responds to his mother, “`Woman, how does your concern affect me?’” Jesus’ response may sound quite disrespectful, but there is also another level of meaning.
The word “Woman” is the same word that is used in the Book of Genesis for Eve, the first woman in creation. So, Jesus is conveying that his mother, Mary, is the new Eve, the first woman in the new creation that he is bringing.
Jesus goes on to say, “`My hour has not yet come.’” Maybe Jesus just wants to relax and enjoy himself and not be bothered with anyone’s problems.
But, Jesus’ words “`My hour’” mean the event of his suffering, dying and rising. Apparently, Jesus knows here at Cana that as soon as he starts his divine mission, opposition and hardship will also start.
The Wedding: The Solution
So, Jesus seems to dodge his mother’s request, but Mary is undeterred and says to the waiters, “`Do whatever he tells you.’” Mary trusts in Jesus, even though she does not yet understand.
In her trust and faith, she gives a directive to all of us. If we “`Do whatever he tells’” us, we too will experience the action of God in our lives.
Then John’s gospel carefully notes that there are 6 water jars. To his audience, this means 1 less than 7 – 1 less than the perfect number which is 7, a sign of fulfillment or perfection.
For us, it is like getting a 90% on a test and not a perfect 100%. The idea here is that Jesus himself becomes the 7th jar, the fulfillment or perfection of humanity’s relationship with God.
And then, there is the great statement of the headwaiter. “`Everyone serves good wine first, but you have kept the good wine until now.’”
On one level, the headwaiter voices the common-sense practice of not holding the good wine until people are a bit high and won’t appreciate it. On another level, these words also say that in Jesus, the best has been saved until last in our relationship with God.
Finally, John concludes this story by saying that “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs.”
So, Jesus’ actions are signs – signs of God’s presence and action in our lives. We Catholics especially are a people of signs.
We have the signs of the 7 sacraments. The question is: do we bring to these signs the trust or faith that the first disciples bring?
For example, do we bring this trust or faith when we say “Amen” to the words “The Body of Christ” before we receive the Eucharist? If we bring this trust or faith to the signs that Jesus gives us, then we too will be able to experience Jesus doing great things for us in our lives.