Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 16, 2022
These days, what the world seems to have run out of is common courtesy, civility, and mutual respect. It is impossible to enjoy a gathering when everyone is arguing. And there is definitely no shortage of topics to turn a pleasant conversation into a heated debate, absent of all common courtesy, civility, and mutual respect, which causes me to wonder if, just possibly, one of the many lessons to be drawn from the Cana miracle of transformation is the need to respectfully listen to and consider the thoughts and opinions of others. If water can change to the finest of wine, why can’t we change as well? Today’s Gospel offers some inspiration.
The drama begins that Mary, by the simple act of listening, has become aware of a need that has arisen. She considered the consequences of the shortage of wine to the bridal couple as well as to the success of the gathering. Then she proposed a solution.
Initially, Jesus did not agree with His mother’s suggestion that He get involved. He didn’t feel ready to begin His public ministry. Still, He listened to her. After giving voice to His initial reaction, He weighed the consequences of acting against staying quiet.
How likely is it that Mary simply brushed aside Jesus’s objections? Surely, she also respectfully listened and gave respectful consideration to His reluctance. Her discernment led her to conclude that the situation demanded action and that His time had come.
There is no record of further discussion between them.
Possibly, Mary simply gave Jesus one of those extremely persuasive looks that mothers are known for. What we know for certain is that The Son deferred to His mother’s opinion. However, it came to be that Jesus respectfully listened to His mother, accepted her point of view, and then acted.
This pattern of “respectful listening” continued as the servants listened to Mary…who instructed them to listen to Jesus. And so, a crisis was averted. Water was transformed into wine. The bride and groom were not embarrassed by the shortage. The party continued.
Still, there was another transformation that came about. Because of what they had witnessed, curious followers were transformed into true believers. And so began the public ministry of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note that the disciples began to believe and listen to Jesus after He listened to and followed His mother’s bidding.
Who can argue with the suggestion that there is a shortage of common courtesy, civility, and mutual respect in our world? The result is a near total breakdown in dialogue and a dramatic escalation of violence.
People are simply not listening to one another. As a result, we are not finding solutions to all kinds of problems that are bombarding us from every direction. This tendency to dig in and tune out others’ thoughts, feelings, and opinions has even crept into our Church.
Pope Francis has convened a Church Synod under the title: For a Synod Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. This is an opportunity for us to really listen and become aware of the many needs that have arisen in our world, consider the consequences of inaction, and then propose, agree upon, and implement viable solutions.
Phase I of the process is half complete and the differing opinions have begun to surface. There is no reason to be embarrassed by the fact that we are not like-minded in all things. Still, we risk great embarrassment and failure should this Synod proceed without the “respectful listening” that was evident at a wedding feast so many centuries ago. If we are to transform the world, which is, of course, our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ, then we must fill the jars we draw from with civility, mutual respect, patience, charity, forgiveness, and love. Only then will people come to believe that we are, in fact, The Body of Christ.
If the world is to listen to the Gospel, we must begin to listen to and respect one another…even as Jesus Himself listened to and respected Mary.
But this “Cana approach” to a shortage is not reserved for the institutional Church. We can use “respectful listening” in our home church…our family. We can attempt to transform our workplaces and respond to a lack of civility with a look of patience and forgiveness. We can send a signal to our nation’s leaders that: YOUR TIME HAS COME! It is time to change the shortage of kindness into love. With Jesus’s help, we can transform our world.