Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 17, 2016
Last Sunday, the Gospel took us to the shores of the Jordan River. We were privileged to look on as Jesus submitted to John’s Baptism by water. Only AFTER all of the people joined in this ritual of repentance and cleansing did the heavens open, and somehow, God the Son was acknowledged, introduced, and appreciated for Who He was and remains. Because the people shared in the cleansing bath, they also shared in the acknowledgement, introduction, and appreciation that poured forth over the earth…even as the star poured its revealing light over the humble manger. The events of the day must have caused the people to recall John’s assurance that someone mightier than he would come with a new Baptism, not one with ordinary water, but a submersion into the Holy Spirit…and a cleansing by Fire.
This Sunday, through John’s Gospel, we fast forward…how much, we don’t know…to Cana, a small, humble, dusty village a short distance from the scene of Jesus’s Baptism. Among the four Gospels, John’s particularly makes effective use of symbolism. The report of the embarrassing shortage of wine, the assertiveness of the otherwise silent Blessed Mother, the witness of the astonished disciples, and, of course, the amazing transformation of ordinary water into the finest of wines are all key elements to this event. Each has a deeper meaning worth delving into further. Today, let’s limit our reflection to the circumstances of Jesus’s first public miracle, often referred to as the beginning of His ministry.
This happened during a joyful celebration…filled with hope and love…and the promise of a bright future for a couple who gathered their family and friends together as they began a new life. Today, even people without a faith life can appreciate the celebratory atmosphere and can also understand how the wine shortage would have brought the celebration to a screeching halt. Then, persuaded and possibly even encouraged by His mother, Jesus miraculously changed water drawn from the well into the finest wine. This miracle is very often associated with the Sacrament of Christian Marriage. Rightly so. This passage, reported only in John’s Gospel, is frequently chosen by a couple to be proclaimed at their wedding liturgy; a fitting choice. But, it would seem that this is about much more than the fact that Jesus appreciated the fact that the hopes and dreams of a young couple in love warranted a good party…that should not be cut short by empty wine bottles.
We should take particular note of the symbolic value of changing the ordinary into something extraordinary; in fact, so extraordinary and special that it was clear to the witnesses that God was indeed present and active in the transformation. The movement from the ordinary to the extraordinary at the wedding feast at Cana was not unlike the transformation that occurred at the Jordan River. There, Jesus changed ordinary river water, which John used to baptize, into cleansing, cauterizing, and healing Fire…The Holy Spirit. By allowing Himself to be submerged into an ordinary river, Jesus sanctified and made holy the water in every Baptismal font, in every church, and in every age. Those submerged in these living waters will rise up transformed, changed…reborn into an extraordinary life in the Spirit, a future filled with hope, love, and the promise of everlasting life.
Last Sunday, we brought the Christmas Season to a close. This is the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. But, there is nothing “ordinary” about lives lived close to Christ and the Church. Regardless of which of the Seven Sacraments we celebrate, the impact on our lives is transformative…intoxicating…a preview of a celebration that will never end.