James D. McBurney, O.S.A.
Church of Our Mother of Good Counsel
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Is: 62: 1-5
Psalm 96: 1-3, 7-10
1 Cor 12: 4-11
John 2: 1-12
The Christmas decorations have been put away. Students are a week or two back at school. Things have returned to “normal,” whatever that is! How has the celebration of Jesus’ birth made a difference in your life and mine? To what does the liturgical calendar now direct our attention?
Our readings today speak to us of beginnings, gifts given and revealed, and abundance This Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is one beginning. The abundant mercy of God is highlighted in the First Reading. St. Paul in the Second Reading speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us through the abundant generosity of God. The Gospel takes us to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the first of his great “signs.” Let us reflect further on each reading. Returning from the experience of exile, Isaiah offers the people of Israel hope as he assures them that Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt. God speaks to Israel like a lover longing for his beloved. “The Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse.” What was it like for the Israelites to hear these words? Trial and hardship would not be the end of the story for them. Could they, and we who hear these words today, even begin to comprehend the goodness, gift, and abundance of God’s mercy? Yet we are called to recognize that God never holds back His mercy. Isaiah’s words point them to a new beginning; a renewed relationship with God. The awareness of God’s mercy in our lives gives us, too, the hope of a new beginning. Isaiah’s words might prompt us to ask: What new beginning do we seek at this time in our lives?
St. Paul speaks to us about spiritual gifts given to us from the generosity of God. We can’t claim these gifts as our own. Further, the gifts given to us are meant to be shared with others, especially the poor and needy among us. In the parish where I work, we participate in a program called Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). For almost 24 years, congregations of various denominations in our area have come together to make this outreach to homeless families a success. Every ten or eleven weeks, our parish hosts two or three homeless families for the week. Volunteers prepare meals and take turns spending a night with the families. It inspires me to see how the gifts and resources of many have been shared with others through this program.
Our Gospel takes us to the wedding feast at Cana. The emphasis here is on the public revelation of Jesus’ identity and mission, which John calls the “beginning of his signs” which revealed his glory. We once again see the abundance and generosity of God manifested through Jesus. It is time for Jesus to reveal the gift of who he is to humanity. What captured my attention in the story are the empty jars, later filled with water and then changed into wine. This is a story about transformation. Where are you and I sometimes empty? With what are we filling up our lives? Where within us do we seek to be filled and transformed by the abundant love of God?
Gifts given, claimed and shared by Jesus and us. We gather together to celebrate Eucharist, the place where in Word and Sacrament we come to know the abundance and generosity of God and are renewed to embrace the challenge of living the Gospel. Having been fed by the Bread of Life this day, may we, in turn, strive to be a source of life for one another.