Lanie LeBlanc OP
Carol & Dennis Keller
Brian Gleeson CP
Paul O'Reilly SJ
5. -- (Your
reflection can be here!)
Sun. 2 C 2022
Our readings this week tell us some of the extraordinary
ways in which God cares for us. In the first reading from
the Book of Isaiah, we hear how God never mentions but
rather kindly overlooks the repeated failings of the
Israelites. Instead, we hear/read about love and praise and
hope for them and their homeland, Jerusalem. God rejoices in
offering yet another opportunity to respond positively to
these lavish sentiments and words... to them and to us.
More of God's goodness is revealed in the selection from
the Letter to the Corinthians. Here we find a rather
impressive listing of spiritual gifts, forms of service, and
workings of the Lord. What is so very amazing is the
over-abundance, that "all of them" are produced by the Holy
Spirit "in everyone"... and that means everyone, you and me,
and the people we love and even those we don't like or know!
Then there is the familiar Gospel story according to John
of Jesus's first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus
may not have thought his "hour had come yet", but apparently
a nudge from Mother Mary started the process rather
surprisingly and, again, the results were much more than
expected. For me, the quantity and the quality of the water
transformed into wine is yet another of God's lavish gifts.
During Mass, ordinary wine is mixed with water and then
transformed into Jesus's Blood. This is the same Blood that
Jesus poured out for us, covering the sins of the world, the
Blood that is our salvation.
It is incomprehensible to me that God loves is so
unconditional, but it is so. How will each of us respond to
this immeasurable love? Will our actions also produce
abundance for others if we "do whatever he (Jesus) tells
Second Sunday in Ordered Time January 16, 2022
Isaiah 62:1-5; Responsorial Psalm 96; 1st
Corinthians 12:4-11; Gospel Acclamation 2nd Thessalonians
2:14; John 2:1-11
We have just got to know when we have the gospel reading
from the Gospel of John that there is something very special
about the liturgy of the Word. Not only that, but we also
have a reading from the third part of the prophet Isaiah.
That third segment is the triumphal part of Isaiah. The
first segment is about the threat from empires against
Judah. The second segment is about the suffering servant and
is set in the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Those were
dark and despairing times. The third segment is about a
return home and the restoration of the nation. The second
reading is from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians
which insists that each member of the Body of Christ has a
place, has a talent and or a skill that adds to the welfare,
growth, and spirituality of the Community. And those gifts,
talents, and skills derive from the Spirit who gives to each
as the Spirit wills, truly gifts.
Let us begin with the Gospel. In all of John’s gospel
there are many facets. There is an historical reference to
culture, ritual, and historical law. There is also in the
same breath a reference to a timeless element of culture,
ritual, and spirituality. There is a heavy dependence on
Jewish life while at the same time there is reference to
myth, culture, and ritual of the pagan Greeks. John, after
all, wrote his gospel for the Jews but oddly enough it is
written in Greek.
The story of Jesus and his ministry is geographic but yet
applicable globally. It is fixed in time, yet his reference
in the first chapters is to the timeless and most ancient of
creation stories. The story this Sunday of the wedding feast
at Cana starts with the phrase the "third day" in the
beginning of this chapter. But counting the days in this
first chapter of John, this wedding day is in fact the
seventh day. We should understand this as John insisting
there is a new creation. Keeping this in mind, the entire
story of Cana takes on a significance that makes of water
something more than H2O.
Another thought to think when reading John’s gospel is
that he takes very ordinary and common events and locations
and makes them very special by the presence of Jesus. Thus,
Cana is a poke and plumb town – that is the town is so small
that you poke you head in, and you are plumb out of it. The
wedding is an eight-day celebration, again a common practice
of Jewish culture. Wine is essential to such celebrations.
This, however, would be no drunken brawl. Wine was mixed
with water. A drunken brawl at a wedding would ruin the joy
of groom and bride as well as honor and integrity of the
The roads in Galilee were not piked or paved with stone.
Walking on those roads in sandals that only protected the
soles of one’s feet would cause those feet to become dirty
with dust or with the leavings of animals. So, washing them
would be expected before entering a home or party venue. In
addition, the laws and rituals of the Jews required hand
washing before the meal, between courses of the meal, and
after the meal. There needed to be adequate water available
for those washings. There was not much in the way of soap or
lotion commonly used for this. Water was stored near the
entrance so that it was handy to those entering. Those jars
were huge and would hold between 20 to 30 gallons each.
There were six such jars at the wedding. Apparently, these
jars were empty. That is key to the story – otherwise it
could be surmised there was already wine in them. But no,
they were empty since Jesus instructed the servants to fill
them --- to the brim. To the brim so there could be nothing
added to the water after the jars were filled.
The story portrays Mary as a person who watched over the
celebration. Just as women in our Church weddings arrange
the bride’s room, attend to the bride and her attendants
seeing to it that all is prepared, and that processions and
seating are completed with honor for guests and in an
orderly fashion. So also, Mary seems to have been in charge
of these details. She notices – at some point in the
eight-day celebration – that the wine has been used up. What
an embarrassment to the couple: to begin their married life
in such an inauspicious matter would have marred the hope
for a fruitful and exemplary marriage. You can hear the
gossip: "Yeah, even at their wedding they were unprepared.
They ran out of wine so early. What were they thinking?"
There are some who insist that Jesus brought his first few
disciples with him and that caused the wine to be used up.
Jesus was invited and by the time of this story he had
already chosen Andrew, another unnamed disciple, Simon
renamed Peter, Philip, and Nathaniel. John presents Mary as
the mother of Jesus; but more than that. She is symbolic of
the Chosen People, the nation favored by God. As Mary bore
Jesus so also the nation bears the Messiah, this Jesus of
Nazareth. It is that continual experience of God as the "one
who is with you" that brings the consciousness and desire of
humanity to longing for the Messiah.
There is a reference to the third day at the beginning of
this story. That reference ties in with the burial of Jesus
which is culminated with the Resurrection. This is a
reference to Jesus as the Messiah, the long awaited one.
When Jesus tells Mary, "My time has not yet come," this is a
reference to the crucifixion, death and burial, and
resurrection on the third day. The time has not yet come
refers to the full manifestation of Jesus as the Son of Man
of ancient myth and prophecy. John ends this event, this
story at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as the
first manifestation of his glory – that is his presence as
the Lamb of God promised by Isaiah. The word John uses to
express "lamb" is also the word used to express "servant."
Thus, Jesus is the suffering servant of the second segment
of the prophet Isaiah.
Great story, this! But what does it mean for us in the
twenty first century when we are so beleaguered by division,
by violence, by hatred, by distrust of authority, and denial
of God’s presence? In our time, there is such distrust in
authority, in history, in science, and in government. We
desperately need to rediscover a solid foundation for human
living that is based on truth and faith. Faith – that
characteristic that we often think of as being commitment.
Faith that we often take to mean trust in God. Faith,
however, is more than either of these, though faith affects
both commitment and trust. Faith, as St. Paul insists, is a
gift given to the heart. That means that we are moved by
love to what is good and healthy for our spirits and our
bodies. But we digress!
John, through out his gospel, insists that God is present
in the little things. We should not need apparitions or
visions or dreams to discover God in our midst. God is
present in the tiny towns like Cana. God is present in the
faith, rituals, and culture of the Chosen People. God is
present where commitments are made to one another as in
marriage. God is present at our parties where we celebrate
life. God names God-self in Moses’ burning bush as "I am who
stays actively and continually present to you in all that
you enjoy, endure, suffer, achieve, and all your living." In
the Hebrew scriptures which catalogue that continual
presence, the people responded by adherence to the Law of
Moses. The water jars for washing away dirt and grim and for
refreshment in life are containers of that experience and
its meaning. There are six such jars at this wedding. In the
Hebrew way of thinking six is an incomplete number, not
quite that fullest of numbers which is seven. That which is
incomplete is water, refreshing, cleansing, giving life to
barrenness. John understands Jesus as the one who cleanses
not only the body but enlivens the spirit of humanity by the
Spirit. Life is more than commitment and celebration. There
is a newness in this presence of the Spirit within each of
us. The concerns and priorities of the world take on new
meaning and purpose. Just as wine is said to lift up
flagging spirits, so the present of the Spirit coming by the
Messiah lifts us up and enlivens and signals meaning and
purpose in everyday living, working, and relationships.
In this context the Isaiah reading asks us to look beyond
the moments of a day to the presence of God bringing us back
to the glory of our home which is the heavenly Jerusalem.
Paul writing to the Thessalonians points out that each
member of the assembly is endowed by the Spirit with gifts
that are to be for the assembly and its work. That is
certainly an argument why Sunday worship within the Assembly
gathered is so critical. We must come to the Word to learn,
to commit, and to be lifted up from thinking the ordinary is
ordinary and without meaning and purpose for our spirits –
some would say, "our souls." It is in the offertory that we
place, at least symbolically, on the altar of sacrifice our
triumphs, our achievements, our joys, our endurances, our
sorrows – well, all the moments of our living. That Spirit
symbolized in the water changed to wonderful wine in John’s
story this Sunday, transforms our ordinary moments into the
extraordinary Body and Blood of the Messiah, the Christ. Let
us drink deeply of that wine and eat heartily of that bread.
For it makes us one with all in the assembly and lifts us
from the secular, the mundane, the routine and brings us
together as the Risen Body of Jesus. Jesus became the
anointed one - the Christ - at his Resurrection. And that
Resurrection is the birth of the Kingdom of God for us.
THE WEDDING AT CANA: 2ND SUNDAY C
Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11
Children are still learning nursery rhymes like Baa Baa
Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, Ring a Ring of Roses, Oranges
and Lemons, and Mary. Mary, Quite Contrary. But what they
originally meant is different from what they seem to mean
today. They were symbols and code language for what people
were there and then experiencing. So too St John’s story of
Jesus changing water into wine at a wedding, is brim-full of
symbolic meanings, meanings beyond the bare facts. Its
overall meaning is summed up in the last sentence of the
story: ‘This was the first of the signs given by Jesus ...
He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him’
(v.11). Having been shown as Son of God and Saviour of the
world to the wise men at Bethlehem, and to his own people at
his baptism, now on this third occasion, his greatness is
displayed to his first followers, right there at Cana in
In telling the story, we need to include John’s first
four words of introduction: ‘ON THE THIRD DAY, there was a
wedding at Cana in Galilee.’ In the Bible big things, great
things happen on the third day, and above all the
resurrection of Jesus. At the beginning of his gospel, then,
John is anticipating its climax.
John’s next words ‘THERE WAS A WEDDING’ stir up rich
associations. In both Judaism and early Christianity, a
wedding was a rich metaphor to speak of the love-match, the
union between God and the people of Israel (as stressed in
our First Reading today). The words highlight the union
between God and an individual, and the union between Jesus
and the Church community as his bride. To this day religious
Sisters wear a silver ring to show their spiritual marriage
to Jesus their bridegroom - the biggest love of their lives.
Moreover, in the community life of peasants at the time
of Jesus, weddings were an exciting break, a reprieve from
what has been labelled ‘the terrible every day.’ Life was
tough for peasants, and their daily diet was basic and
meagre. It seldom included meat or poultry, which required
killing one of their few animals. But a wedding worked like
magic. It brought some rest for a whole week from hard
relentless labour, and enjoyment of abundant amounts of food
and drink, along with music and dancing. These associations
help us identify the point John is implying. The whole
activity of Jesus is a wedding, a wedding at which the wine
never runs out, and at which the best wine is kept till
last. Moreover, wherever Jesus goes, including so often to
meals, the joy breaks out. He’s experienced as the source of
‘good news’ - the good news of God’s lavish, gracious, and
everlasting love. His presence, then, is a cause of joy. On
this occasion, the production by Jesus of so much new wine
(no less than 120 gallons) of outstanding quality represents
the abundance of God’s gifts, which the prophets promised
would accompany the arrival of the Messiah, the Saviour (cf.
Amos 9:13; Hosea 2:24; Joel 3:18; Is 25:6).
It’s significant too, that at this manifestation of his
glory and greatness, ‘the mother of Jesus was there’ (v.1.),
just as she will be there again at the cross (Jn 19:25). In
John’s understanding, Jesus is glorified on that cross, and
the marriage of God and God’s people is revived. In both
places, on both occasions, Mary is the new Eve, the woman
described in the Book of Genesis as ‘the mother of all that
live’ (3:20). Here at Cana, when ‘the wine provided for the
wedding was all finished’ (v.3) she feels a mother’s
compassion for the embarrassed bride and groom. Even when
her son is slow to act, Mary’s strong faith and trust do not
waver that he can and will fix things. So, she says quietly
to the waiters: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (v.5).
In telling us his story of the wedding at Cana in
Galilee, what’s the main point that John our storyteller is
making? I suggest that if and when we accept the invitation
of Jesus to let him become our friend, our best friend who
is always at our side, our life changes. It’s like water
being turned into wine. Without Jesus life tends to be dull,
stale, flat, and insipid – never fulfilled. But with Jesus
life becomes colourful, sparkling, and exciting, and even an
exhilarating adventure. That’s what St Paul keeps
experiencing, even in situations of difficulty, opposition,
and struggle. ‘The life I now live in the flesh,’ he
insists, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20).
Australian Jesuit theologian, Gerald O’Collins, has
written about friendship with Jesus in a particularly
eloquent and appealing way. Let his words will round out our
The truth is that we all have hungry hearts. We want to
escape from all that is deadly, and find a life that is
fuller and more satisfying. My faith and my personal
experience tell me where to look. Look for Jesus. Welcome
Jesus and you will be welcoming someone who gives us real
life, the fullness of life. He is the Life-giver, the
supreme Life-giver. …If we open our arms to Jesus and let
him into our little world, we will live life, the only life
that truly fills our hearts and will continue forever.
Modern advertising can offer products that provide passing
relief for our hungry hearts, and make life for a time a
little bit sweeter and richer. But those products can never
fully satisfy our hungry hearts. Only Jesus can do that.
…Real life does not come by taking it for ourselves, but by
receiving it from Jesus and sharing it with others. Only
Jesus is the supreme Life-giver, the utterly satisfying
Life-giver, who offers us life, now and forever. So, live
life! Welcome Jesus! (Jesus: A Portrait, p.75).
Gleeson CP" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Year C: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
"You have kept the best wine till now."
Happy New Year! - I think it’s still not too late to
So, actually, how exactly do you turn water into wine?
Just about this time a year ago, I was asked that
question by a small boy at the back of a church a little way
from here. He obviously felt that, being a priest, and
having just preached on the topic I was supposed to know
about these things.
Playing for time, I asked him why he wanted to know and
he said that he wanted to know because he wanted to be able
to do it himself.
‘Oh’, I said – "and why is that?"
Well, after a little discussion, we discovered that he
had been giving this matter really quite a lot of thought.
And it wasn’t just that he thought it would be a really cool
thing to be able to do to show off at parties, but that he
knew that wine was quite expensive and water was very cheap.
So he thought he could make money by producing it very
cheaply and easily. So he wanted me to give him the secret
of how it was done. And he was quite the little businessman!
So I started to try to explain that the turning of water
into wine at Cana and all the other miracles that are
recorded are signs given by Jesus to show that He was who He
said He was – the Son of God. And those signs are recorded
as stories in the Gospels in order that we too may feel
confident in knowing that Jesus is the Son of God.
Well, I don’t know, maybe I went on a bit too long,
because the young boy – his name is Matthew by the way – cut
me off and said "So in order to do this, you have to be the
Son of God – OK, forget it."
So, I am sorry that Matthew went away feeling that being
the Son of God and turning water into wine were both things
that are a little bit too difficult and beyond him. I hope
that one day he may come to feel differently about both of
I was sad about that because what I really wanted to be
able to say is that turning water into wine is just a small
symbol of God’s action in the world to bring good out of
evil. That to be a Christian is to be a Child of God. And to
be a Child of God is to do whatever one can to bring good
out of whatever evil human situations one finds oneself in
life. And, just sometimes, that requires Christians to do
things that seem humanly impossible – to achieve depths of
love, trust and forgiveness that are uncommon in our human
world and that come not from within us, but from Above.
Let me give a small example: a couple of years ago a
militant atheist decided - as a publicity stunt - that he
would deliberately steal a host - a piece of the Body of
Christ which we celebrate, venerate and honour - and
deliberately desecrate it in a video on You-tube.
A bishop was asked on the radio news to give his
response. The reporter was, of course, hoping for a
fulminating angry condemnation that would give the story
"legs". The bishop considered for a moment and then said he
would like to make two points.
-The first is that this was obviously a deliberate
attempt to provoke and when one is deliberately provoked,
the single most important thing is always to respond with
peace and love. Nobody ever died of being disrespected. But
people have died - and even killed - as a result of allowing
themselves to be provoked.
-The second is that - in Truth - this man had not
desecrated the Eucharist; he had simply re-enacted it. We
celebrate this Eucharist in everlasting memory of Jesus
Christ who lived the most perfect of lives and who was
murdered and whose body was desecrated by Roman soldiers –
men – incapable of recognizing the presence and goodness of
God in the world.
That, I believe is what we celebrate in our Sunday
Eucharist – our commitment as Christians to follow Christ in
making the best – the very best - of whatever we encounter
in our lives. For these next seven days, we want to show the
face of Christ in the world. Who knows what kind of dangers
and the difficulties we may face. But the test of our
Christianity is that we must bring good out of evil
circumstances – we must be able to turn water into wine.
If you see Matthew, ask him to give it a try. It may not
make him as wealthy as Bill Gates, but it may make him rich
in an even better way.
Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who enables us
to turn human water into His own Wine.
O'Reilly SJ <email@example.com>
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections,
and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is
Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John Boll, OP