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RCIA – The Wedding at Cana – the Readings

January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010 – The 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Opening

Pray today’s Psalm together.

Today’s psalm is a classic expression of praise and thanksgiving from those who have experienced firsthand the saving power of the Lord.

What did you notice about the church environment today?

Why were there no special decorations?

We have transitioned from the Christmas season back to Ordinary Time. We closed the Christmas season with the Baptism of our Lord last Sunday and began the first week of Ordinary Time, and today we see a bridge between Christ’s coming into the world and his active ministry. We are in Year C, which means that the majority of the gospel readings will come from the Gospel of St. Luke, but every year on this Sunday in the lectionary cycle the gospel reading comes from John. Today’s reading completes the “epiphany” triad texts, Jesus was revealed to the Magi on January 3rd, he was further revealed at his baptism last weekend, and today in Cana, Jesus is initiating his sacred mission of manifesting the kingdom of God. The Gospel of John calls Jesus’ Cana miracle his first sign, his first miracle, and so it is a fitting beginning to Ordinary Time. (Next Sunday, however, we will hear a different rendition of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry from the Gospel of Luke, one of the synoptic* gospels.)

What does Ordinary Time mean to you?

Why do we need a break from feasting and fasting?

How are your spiritual rhythms in sync with the liturgical rhythms?

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God’s promise to restore Jerusalem to a place of honor among the nations is the focus of the first reading from Isaiah. The writer uses the imagery of the marriage of God to Israel, after their return from Babylonian exile, to indicate the tender love God has for the chosen people. This same love, which ideally exists in the marriage covenant, is further held in God’s embrace when Jesus chose to reveal his glory by the miracle at Cana, a wedding feast. Through the lens of the gospel it is evident that Christ, who had the power to change water into wine, also has the power to transform the ordinary love of spouses into a graced reality.

What images/feelings did you see or feel while hearing these readings?

As you listened to the Word of God, what caused you to want to praise God?

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The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah opens with joyous expectation. He wants to get your attention. There is glorious news to be shared and he can’t contain it any longer. GOD LOVES US!! He really, truly loves us. Many times throughout the Bible, God’s love for us is expressed in terms of a marriage between a man and his bride. It’s intimate, it’s personal. God rejoices in us, in fact he’s pursuing us. He wants us to love him in return. We give our earthly loved ones gifts; God, too, gives us, his beloved, gifts and favors.

Today’s first reading comes from the third section of the Book of Isaiah, written in the turbulent years after Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. The prophet writes to reassure the Jewish people at a time of national disillusionment and, for many, growing skepticism that Jerusalem would ever regain its previous splendor. The familiar description of Israel as Yahweh’s spouse is used to reassure the people that God’s love is faithful and unbroken.

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2nd Reading

Today and for the next six weeks of Ordinary Time, a semi-continuous reading will cover chapters 12, 13 and 15 from the First Corinthians. In today’s text, Paul is addressing the difficulties that had arisen in that community over the exercise of charismatic gifts. Arrogance and competition over whose gifts were more important threatened to divide the community. Paul is intent on showing that all of the gifts come from the one Spirit and are intended to build up the Body of Christ in a climate of harmony and mutual acceptance. Paul does not question the reality of the miraculous gifts that were apparently so manifest in the Corinthian community. But he does insist that all of these gifts were given “for the common good”, rather than to inflate any individual. These gifts from the Spirit are to be used in service of God and neighbor. Each gift is unique and diverse, just as each individual is unique, but these gifts are part of the whole Church community, just as a human body has many parts, none can exist without the others. Paul is telling us to not argue whose gifts are better, but to realize that we need each other’s contributions to complete the Body of Christ.

Similarly, the same spirit brought you all here to RCIA, but it was by different paths, for different reasons. And the end result is the same for each of you, to become part of the Body of Christ within the Catholic Church.

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The Gospel

Both the first reading and the gospel contain marriage imagery, yet neither is about weddings. They are about the power of God which can transform anything and everything, way beyond our imaginations. And they are showing us the coming glory of God, the messianic age. The infant Jesus came into the world so that we could relate to him and get close to him.

God’s coming to earth as a man unites the divine and the human, which is another symbolism of marriage. Christ is the builder (in the first reading) and you is humanity. Christ is united with us, and so it is fitting that Jesus’ first miracle takes place at a wedding.

In the gospel we hear that Jesus’ “first” sign “revealed his glory” and as a result “his disciples believed in him”. In this brief allusion, we are given a clue to the highly symbolic nature of John’s Gospel in general and of Jesus’ miracles in particular. In John, no aspect of the narrative is casual; each detail points to a larger meaning, always connected to the Gospel’s ultimate purpose: “so that you [the hearer of the Gospel] may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31) The miracle of Cana, then, is about Jesus being revealed as the Messiah, the Holy One, in the midst of our ordinary human experience (i.e., at a wedding), transforming our “secular” reality into the fine wine of God’s grace. Scholars debate how much John’s Gospel intends any explicit sacramental reference here and elsewhere. But it is easy to see why this passage has been used by the Church over the centuries to deepen our understanding of how, in marriage, the action of Christ transforms the love of Christian spouses into a graced reality (i.e., a sacrament).

One example of the symbolic nature of the Gospel of John is in the use of six stone jars. Six is an imperfect number. Seven is a perfect number. At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, in his Passion, he becomes the seventh “jar” when blood and water gushed forth from his side when the guard cut it with a lance. John’s Gospel is full of symbolism like this. Catholic convert and author, Steve Ray, details a lot of this symbolism in his books. www.catholic-convert.com

Another example is the water for Old Testament ceremonial washings changes into superabundant wine, symbolizing the dawn of the messianic age, and even prefiguring Christ’s Passion. As here water is changed into wine, wine will eventually change into blood, the new means of purification. So in a sense, Calvary starts at Cana. When Jesus tells Mary his “hour” has not yet come, he uses a word that in John always refers to his Passion. The miracle at Cana is the first of the “signs” that manifests Jesus’ glory, but it only foreshadows the greatest of the signs that manifest his glory: his death on the cross.

The Gospel relates the first public miracle of Christ at the wedding feast of Cana. This is an “epiphania,” or manifestation, of Christ’s divine power which marks the beginning of His public life. See below an excerpt from a sermon of St. Francis de Sales for this Sunday.
“And His mother said to the waiters: Do whatsoever He tells you.” (St. John 2:5) “Let us do well what our Savior tells us: let us fill our hearts with the water of penitence, and this tepid water will be changed into the wine of fervent love. Do we wish to be fervent in prayer? Let us nourish ourselves with good thoughts during the day, making frequent prayerful aspirations. Do you wish to be recollected in prayer? Outside of prayer keep yourself as if you were there, and do not waste time in useless reflections, either on yourself or on what happens around you. Do not amuse yourself with trifles…Nourish yourself the whole day long with pious thoughts on the infinite goodness of our God…Practice well what you have been taught until now, and rest in the Providence of God; for He will never fail to supply what is necessary for you.” –St. Francis de Sales

Pray to Our Lady when you cannot seem to do something. Christ thought His time had not come, Mary tells Him, “Oh, but I think it has.” Maybe your time has come in your mind, but Mother may know better. Ask Her and Her Son.

From the Institute of Christ the King

Sources:

Magnificat Vol. 11, No. 12 / January 2010

Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word, 2010

The Word into Life, Year C

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