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We Have Seen His Glory: Reflecting on the Sunday Gospel

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At Cana we discover that Jesus wasn’t simply another prophet or holy man.

 

Living the Word

The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

January 17, 2016

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” … His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine.

—John 2

 To read this Sunday’s Mass readings, click here.

Although the recent celebrations of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord have already faded into memory, today’s Gospel story of the wedding at Cana forms the third part of a sort of Epiphany trilogy and carries the themes of these two Christmastide feasts into the green days of Ordinary Time: manifestation and transformation.

These three Epiphany events — the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus by John, and the miracle at Cana — are, as Pope Francis has described them, “the three signs that the liturgy brings in these days in order to speak to us about the manifestation of God: God makes himself known.” And as we know, the story of the Magi coming from the East reminds us that the child born in Bethlehem was born for all peoples and the baptism of Jesus is the revelation that he is the Father’s “beloved Son.” So then what do we learn from the miracle at Cana? What truth is revealed in this Sunday’s Gospel?

To answer this question, we have to pull back the lens, as it were, to take in a broader view of salvation history.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read of how God continually called straying women and men back into right-relationship with himself. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with signs and stories that reveal God’s covenant-love — his relationship — with his Chosen People: the rainbow after the great flood (Genesis 9:1-17), Abraham’s star-filled sky (Gn 15), the giving of the Law to Moses (Exodus 15 and 24) and the promises made to King David and his descendants (1 Samuel 7:12-13).

Each of these stories remind us that while the People of Israel violated this relationship time and again, God’s love and mercy remained constant. Even the First Reading of this Sunday’s Mass reminds us of God’s abiding and merciful love: “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” (Isaiah 62:5).

But those signs and symbols of the Old Testament were only representations of God’s love. On that first Christmas night everything changed. In Jesus — who is the Word made Flesh — God “made his dwelling among us and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14) and the miracle at Cana was the first time that Jesus manifested — remember, this is an Epiphany — his own transforming power and glory.

Cana marked a beginning and in the transformation of the water into wine we discover that Jesus wasn’t simply another prophet or holy man. He was God’s “Beloved” and he holds the power to transform — to recreate and renew — the elements of earth and, more importantly, the hearts and minds and souls of his followers.

In the coming weeks of Ordinary Time, we will hear the stories of how this transforming and saving work, begun in Cana, changed the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

In today’s Gospel we hear Mary telling the servants to listen to her son. What do you hear Jesus asking of you today?

 How have you experienced the healing and transforming power of Jesus in your own life?

 How do you show the power and glory of God in your own life?

Words of Wisdom: “We were once water, now we are wine, and are judged worthy of the wedding feast… We are being invited, then, to meditate on this renewal of our selves, of our institutions, and of everything around us, but we must bear in mind that the renewal will come in its fullness only at the wedding feast of the last day”—Adrian Nocent, OSB, in The Liturgical Year

 

Silas S. Henderson is in formation with the Society of the Divine Savior (the Salvatorians) and currently serves as the managing editor of Abbey Press Publications and Deacon Digest magazine. He is the author of numerous reflections and books. He can be found at www.fromseason2season.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/SilasSHenderson.