SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2021)
Readings:Isaiah 62:1-5Psalms 96:1-3, 7-101 Corinthians 12:4-11John 2:1-12
We are ushered into our first Sunday outside of the Christmas season by Mary, the Mother of God, who played such a prominent role in the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke during the Christmas season. The words said by Mary in John’s second chapter will be the last words we hear Mary utter in the gospels (which, of course, lends them a certain importance). How appropriate that Mary leads (cajoles) Jesus into the beginning of His public ministry in John’s gospel.
After His baptism by John, and the gathering of the greater part of His twelve disciples, Jesus, His Mother, and it’s fair to assume at least some of His new disciples, attend a wedding. The circumstances of the wedding were like most other weddings Jesus attended with His parents, except for one – they had never attended a wedding when the bride and groom ran out of wine. Wine was a staple for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean communities, and to not have enough wine to cover the dinner would be considered, at best, a gross oversight. The wedding couple were just an ordinary couple; we are not even given their names. Yet Mary’s compassionate sensitivity to the embarrassment that would accompany the lack of wine, and her intimate knowledge of who her Son is and what He is capable of, leads her to intercede for the couple with her Son so that their celebration of new love might not be tarnished.
With four short words Mary challenges Jesus to help this couple out and end the reception on a high note. At first Jesus’ response to His mother seems a little abrupt – “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Scholars have suggested that the word used for “woman” is a normal, and polite form of address, not unlike later in John when from the cross Jesus says in reference to the Apostle John, “Woman, behold your Son.” No disrespect would be allowed into this feast of love; certainly not for the mother of Jesus.
Mary’s genuine insight and confidence is obvious in her words to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” Not only does Jesus save the newlyweds any embarrassment from a lack of wine, but He gives the entire gathering something to talk about because the wine served last was significantly better than the wine served first.
Jesus is right that His “hour has not yet come,” for that hour will be accomplished in another setting that is all about love, even though the circumstances of the cross point in the opposite direction. From the simple love of an unnamed couple, Jesus will journey some three years continuing to show His love for the people that God sent Him into the world to save, and when His hour comes in Jerusalem He will manifest His absolute love for all men and women by embracing the cross, transforming it from an instrument of torture into a sign of self-emptying love.
Jesus’s love turns the insignificant Cana into a town significantly associated with love. His love will turn the insignificant people who stand on the fringes of society into signs of God’s overwhelming love. Jesus will take the ordinary water of life and turn it into the celebratory wine of joy and happiness, and He does all this when people “listen to Him.” The most insignificant people at the wedding, the servers, became instruments of God’s love and mercy because they did what Jesus told them to do: “Do whatever he tells you,” said Mary.
In Portugal, Lourdes, and Tepeyak, and in countless insignificant places throughout the world, Mary has been telling people “Do whatever he tells you.” Her knowledge of who her Son is, and her confidence that He wishes to help all men and women everywhere, makes her say to all of us “Do whatever he tells you,” and in the pages of Scripture He has told us a great deal. May we find the joy and love that the couple of Cana surely found on the day of their wedding. May our hearts be filled with gladness that Jesus can take the poor and insignificant among us and make us vehicles for His work of redeeming all peoples, and may we become those instruments by simply doing “whatever He tells us.”