January 18, 2013

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Isaiah furnishes this weekend’s first reading.

When this third section of Isaiah was written, the Hebrew people had just emerged from a terrible period in their history. Their homeland, divided into two kingdoms after the death of King Solomon, had been overrun by the mighty Babylonian Empire, centered in today’s Iraq.

Many people died, or were killed, in the conquest. Others were taken to Babylon, the imperial capital. There these exiles, and then their descendants, languished for four generations until political fortunes changed. The more powerful Persians conquered Babylonia itself.

As a result, the exiles were allowed to return to their homeland. The prophets did not see the sequence of events leading to this happy release as merely coincidental or the result of human political maneuvers. Rather, God provided for it. God has promised to protect the people. The people upset the arrangement by sinning.

Despite their sinfulness, however, God was constant. He provided.

For its second reading this weekend, the Church presents a passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Leading the Corinthian Christians to genuine fidelity was a considerable challenge for Paul. In reaction to rivalries and arguments in Corinth, Paul wrote what has become a blueprint for Christian living. He reminded the Corinthians to whom he wrote that each of them has special gifts and opportunities. Such diversity was welcome since it meant that there were so many occasions for individual believers to bring the sweetness of the Gospel into the world. Paul even lists different skills and talents to make his point.

St. John’s Gospel supplies the third reading.

Unique to John, the miracle at Cana in Galilee was the first recorded of the Lord’s miracles. It occurred at the start of the Lord’s public ministry.

The emphasis usually lies upon the marvel of the changing of the water into wine. This indeed was remarkable. But the story has other powerful lessons.

A great lesson is about Mary. John’s Gospel never names her. It always simply refers to Mary as “the mother” of Jesus. This is not an oversight. It stresses her unique role as the Lord’s earthly parent.

The response of Jesus to the obvious embarrassment of the host in not having enough wine for the guest can be puzzling. Was the Lord indifferent to the host’s distress? His reply seemed to stress that the messianic mission was not to provide for human needs, but to draw all to God and to eternal life.

Mary enters the picture. First, Jesus hears her. Secondly, her faith is unqualified and frank. She trusts her Son, telling the servers to do whatever he orders them to do.

So this reading reveals the power and mission of Jesus, as well as Mary’s perfect response in faith to the Lord.

Reflection

The Church celebrated the feast of the Nativity at Christmas, rejoicing in the birth of the Lord in time and space. In observing the feast of the Epiphany, the Church joyfully proclaimed to us that the Lord came to show all of us the unlimited love of God for us. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord told us that Jesus lived, and eventually, died for us. He became one of us.

This weekend, in the words of Isaiah, the Church reminds us that no earthly or human force, however mighty, is beyond God’s strength given to those of faith, such as Mary.

The story of Cana reinforces us in our faith. By this miracle, Jesus teaches us that no human situation should distract us from the fact that being with God is our destiny and therefore our priority.

An important fundamental lesson is that earthly concerns are not everything. Our intention must be everlastingly to be with the Lord in heaven. †

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